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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - May 20, 2024

Chairman Cole Introduces Ambitious Appropriations Schedule


Washington Update


Appropriations


On Thursday, May 16, House Appropriations Chair Tom Cole (OK) previewed interim subcommittee FY25 302(b) allocations, which abide by the budget caps outlined in the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 and disregards the side deals both parties backed under that agreement. Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (CT) called on House Republicans to reconsider the FY25 totals, specifically asking for an increase of at least 1 percent to defense and non-defense funding levels. Under Cole’s allocations, non-defense programs will see a cut of 6% with the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee receiving a more significant cut. The funding total for Labor-HHS- Education is $184.5 billion in the House proposal, which is a roughly $40 billion cut from the FY24 total of $225.4 billion. DeLauro released a one-pager on the House GOP funding totals that notes a 1 percent increase on both sides of the ledger would mean a total of at least $786 billion for non-defense programs and at least $895 billion for defense in FY25. She reiterates that those numbers are ‘starting points’ for negotiations. 


Along with release of the allocations Cole announced an aggressive markup schedule, with action starting as quickly as this week, and at unusual hours. The schedule aspires to close all 24 markups (the 12 subcommittee and 12 full committee) by July 10. The Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee markup is scheduled for Thursday, June 27 with the full committee scheduled for Wednesday, July 10 . 


Click here to access the press release on the allocations.

Click here to access the markup schedule.

Click here to access Ranking Member DeLauro’s one-pager. 


USCM ASWA/WIOA Reauthorization Letter


On Thursday, May 16, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) sent a bipartisan letter, signed by 117 mayors from across the country, to Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Bernie Sanders (VT), Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (LA) and all members of the Senate HELP Committee. The letter emphasizes the critical need for Congress to reauthorize federally funded job training programs at full funding levels, and make smart, sustainable investments in the nation’s workforce, while protecting local governments’ role in the process.


Click here to read the full national press release and access the letter. 


Department of Commerce Workforce Policy Agenda


On Tuesday, May 14, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced a Department Administrative Order (DAO) to establish a Department of Commerce workforce policy agenda focused on preparing workers with education and skills necessary to accelerate the development and deployment of critical and emerging technologies. The DAO frames a Commerce approach to workforce investments that is employer-led, worker- centric, and fully integrated into the Department’s work through the Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America agenda.  


The DAO establishes Principles for Workforce Investments that reflect the employer-led, worker-centric approach to the Department’s workforce development programs as first developed under the Good Jobs Challenge and are guiding workforce program development across the Department.  Through the Good Jobs Principles, the DAO helps ensure the Department’s programs support the creation of good jobs as a building block for equitable economic growth.  Developed jointly with the Department of Labor, the Good Jobs Principles provide a framework for workers, businesses, labor unions, advocates, researchers, state and local governments, and federal agencies for a shared vision of job quality. 

Click here to read the full press release and access the full DAO. 


AI Education Legislation


This week, Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (WA) and Senator Jerry Moran (KS) are expected to introduce legislation that would create National Science Foundation (NSF) scholarships for AI and quantum computing. The bill would authorize the NSF to award AI and quantum computing scholarships for higher education and establish NSF fellowships for professional development for AI in STEM and education, and provide tools for developing K-12 curriculum on using AI in the classroom.  Additionally, the two senators are working on a bill to help develop the AI workforce. 


On Wednesday, May 15, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (NY) bipartisan working group unveiled the report “Driving U.S. Innovation in Artificial Intelligence,” the group’s AI ‘roadmap.’ The group says the recommendations are a critical step as Congress considers legislation to increase innovation and safeguard against negative uses of the rapidly-evolving technology. It calls for a significant increase in funding - $32 billion over several years —  for AI innovation to be worked into Congress' annual funding process, which was the amount recommended by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence.

Click here to access the Driving U.S. Innovation in Artificial Intelligence report. 


House Education and the Workforce Committee Hearing


On Wednesday, May 15, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra testified before the House Education and the Workforce Committee during the hearing “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the Department of Health and Human Services.” During the hearing, Secretary Becerra testified in defense of President Biden’s FY25 spending blueprint, which calls for roughly $1 billion combined for federal early childhood programs — Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant. The FY25 proposed budget for HHS also calls for $5 billion for universal preschool access for 4-year-olds. 


Click here to access a video and recap of the hearing. 


Initial Jobless Claims


In the week ending May 4, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 231,000, an increase of 22,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 208,000 to 209,000. The 4-week moving average was 215,000, an increase of 4,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 210,000 to 210,250. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.2 percent for the week ending April 27, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate.


Click here to access the full report.

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