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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - May 25, 2021.

White House Set to Release FY22 Budget


WASHINGTON UPDATE


American Jobs Plan/Infrastructure


Senate Democrats are unlikely to try to use the FY 2021 budget resolution to advance another reconciliation package to bypass the legislative filibuster — an indication that the infrastructure debate could go past September 30 as Congress faces deadlines on government funding and the debt limit. The White House is set to release its FY 2022 budget this Friday, and lawmakers are said to be targeting mid-June for their own resolution.


There’s been some discussion of using the highway reauthorization bill and water resources bill to try to get a slimmed down bipartisan compromise on infrastructure. Whatever isn’t included in those two bills -- and that would include large portions of Biden’s $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan and $1.8 trillion American Family Plan -- could then be rolled into one or more reconciliation packages, which the Senate would pass on a party line vote. An increase in the debt limit and even an immigration bill could be added as well.


This method would extend the timeline for infrastructure discussions -- both between the two parties and internally among Democrats -- over several months, giving Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) more time to work on moderate senators — most notably Senator Joe Manchin (WV) — who are opposed to using reconciliation to push through legislation.

Apprenticeship Legislation


On Thursday, May 20, Congressman David Scott (GA) introduced the Jobs, On-the-Job ‘Earn While You Learn’ Training and Apprenticeships for Young African Americans Act of 2021 to encourage the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to work with African American organizations and labor unions to recruit and hire African Americans in registered apprenticeship (RA) programs. The legislation would create a Diversity and Inclusion Administrator position within the Employment and Training Administration at DOL responsible for promoting and assisting greater African American participation in RAs. It would also support the recruitment, employment, and retention of African American and other nontraditional Black populations in programs under the national apprenticeship system in high-skill, high-wage, and in-demand industry sectors and occupations as well as target high-earning occupations - such as those in construction, welding, electrical engineering, plumbing, information technology, energy, green jobs, advanced manufacturing, health care, and cybersecurity. The House Education and Labor Committee plans to consider the bill by late summer, according to a key aide.


Click here to read more on the legislation.

Department of Education


On Monday, May 24, the U.S. Department of Education announced it plans to hold hearings in June to solicit public feedback on its rulemaking plans on more than a dozen regulatory topics. Many proposed changes would restore Obama-era policies that were either rolled back or eliminated under former Secretary Betsy DeVos’ leadership, including writing new rules aimed at cutting off federal aid to poor-performing programs at for-profit schools and other career colleges (a policy scrapped entirely by the previous administration) and revising “borrower defense” regulations. Secretary Cardona said the changes meant to ensure regulations aren’t creating “unnecessary barriers,” but instead “serve our students well.” Pell Grant eligibility for prison education programs, public service loan forgiveness and change of ownership/control of institutions of higher education are also on the list of 14 rulemaking topics. The Department did not clarify how it will prioritize the issues and the entire rulemaking process could take several years to finish.


Click here to access the press release.

American Families Plan


On Thursday, May 20, House Education and Labor Chair Bobby Scott (VA) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Patty Murray (WA) were joined at a press event by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh where they highlighted the urgent need for Congress to enact the child care proposal in the American Families Plan. The event also featured Democratic Women’s Caucus Co-Chair Congresswoman Lois Frankel (FL), Senator Bob Casey (PA), and a parent from New Orleans, Dasjs Reed. A recent report found that more than 1 in 5 parents were out of work or working less in 2020 due to child care or school disruptions and data from the most recent jobs report shows women are not rejoining the workforce and continued to leave the labor force in April.


Click here to watch a video of the full event.

Confirmation Hearings


On Thursday, May 27, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on the nominations of Rajesh Nayak for Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy, Taryn Mackenzie Williams for Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy, and Doug Parker for Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.


Click here for more information on the hearings.

Initial Jobless Rate


In the week ending May 15, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 444,000, a decrease of 34,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. The previous week's level was revised up by 5,000 from 473,000 to 478,000. The 4-week moving average was 504,750, a decrease of 30,500 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since March 14, 2020 when it was 225,500. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,250 from 534,000 to 535,250. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.7 percent for the week ending May 8, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's unrevised rate.


Click here to access the full report.

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