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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - May 2nd, 2022

Bipartisan FY23 Appropriations Negotiations Underway


Washington Update

Build Back Better

Congress has returned to Washington after a recess, and Democrats have begun negotiations on a slimmed-down version of President Biden’s domestic agenda that they are working to pass in the coming weeks. The focus of their efforts includes raising taxes on the wealthy, reducing drug prices for millions of Americans and slowing climate change. ​ The challenge in getting a bill passed has not changed - Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) have publicly objected to parts of the agenda and Congressional Republicans remain uniformly opposed to any bill. Both Manchin and Sinema want a much smaller price tag but each has been clashing with the other over what they will accept. Sinema is more skeptical of the tax increases but has supported sweeping measures on climate and child poverty - she is more willing to spend than to tax. Manchin, however, has supported the tax increases but is skeptical of the spending programs, especially the expansion of the child tax credit and some climate measures. While there is talk of a potential smaller reconciliation package that can garner the support of both Manchin and Sinema, it seems unlikely to happen soon. Manchin has said that any plan for a reconciliation package should be about inflation and paying down the debt and include measures aimed at changing the tax code. Appropriations

On Thursday, April 28, top appropriators met to start bipartisan negotiations on military and non-defense totals for the upcoming fiscal year. House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (CT) said she left a closed-door meeting with her counterparts where they discussed a framework and getting top line numbers before summer. Reaching agreement on the two overall numbers would be a major step forward in funding the government before the September 30 shutdown deadline, but lawmakers acknowledge the difficulties in accomplishing that, especially with midterm elections. The House Appropriations Committee plans to mark up all 12 spending bills in June, with floor action to follow in July. The Senate spending panel has not yet released a markup schedule. Education Secretary Cardona and Senator Tim Kaine

On Monday, May 2, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Senator Tim Kaine (VA) are set to tour the career and technical education program at Reynolds Community College in Richmond, VA. While there, they will meet with students and administrators to discuss job training, then go to Armstrong High School to learn more about the Richmond Teacher Residency program. The House and Senate are currently negotiating their jobs and competitiveness bills. The House-passed COMPETES Act (HR 4521) includes language similar to Senator Kaine’s JOBS Act, which would allow students enrolled in career training programs as short as eight weeks long to be eligible for Pell Grants. Last week, Secretary Cardona discussed how his agency is looking at short-term Pell programs during a conversation with formerly incarcerated individuals. Labor Secretary Walsh and Congressman Bobby Scott

On Monday, May 2, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is traveling to Newport News with House Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott (VA) to discuss the value of workforce training in strengthening the nation’s economy. Scott is one of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s picks to conference with the Senate over the competitiveness bills. Scott and Walsh plan to visit Thomas Nelson Community College’s Workforce Development Center for a tour and roundtable discussion. The visit builds on the Department’s Good Jobs Initiative that aims to improve job quality nationwide with the implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Higher Education Innovation Act

On Thursday, April 28, Senators Michael Bennet (CO) and Marco Rubio (FL) introduced the bipartisan Higher Education Innovation Act, which would lower costs for students by allowing them to use federal financial aid to attend high-quality postsecondary programs. Currently, students who attend high-quality unaccredited postsecondary institutions are unable to receive federal student aid to help finance their education. As a result, many students can’t access the financial assistance they need to enroll in trade schools, community colleges, and other postsecondary institutions with a proven record of positive outcomes. This legislation would create a five-year pilot program for an alternative, outcomes-based process for high quality postsecondary institutions to receive authorization to participate in federal financial aid programs. ​ Click here to read the one-page fact sheet. ​ Click here to access the full text of the bill. DOL Nomination

On Monday, April 25, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) filed a cloture petition to limit debate on the nomination of Lisa Gomez to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). Gomez currently is a partner at labor law firm Cohen, Weiss and Simon LLP, representing employer and union pension plans. She joined the firm in 1994, became a partner in 2002 and currently serves as Chair of the firm’s Management Committee. If the Senate confirms Gomez, she will replace Ali Khawar, who has been serving as Acting Assistant Secretary for the EBSA and would remain as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary. House Appropriations Hearing

On Thursday, April 28, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testified before the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee on behalf of President Joe Biden’s fiscal year 2023 budget request for the Department of Education. Biden’s request includes increasing federal education spending by roughly 15 percent. It calls for $88.3 billion in discretionary funding for the Education Department, a nearly $12 billion increase from its current level. It would increase funding for the Pell Grant, schools that serve students from high-poverty households, special education, mental health, teacher recruitment and more. ​ Click here to watch Secretary Cardona’s testimony. Initial Jobless Claims

In the week ending April 9, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 185,000, an increase of 18,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 166,000 to 167,000. The 4-week moving average was 172,250, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 170,000 to 170,250. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.1 percent for the week ending April 2, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. ​ Click here to access the report.

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