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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - November 1st, 2021

White House Releases Build Back Better Framework/Vaccine Mandate ETS

Washington Update

Infrastructure Bill/Social Spending Package

On Thursday, October 28, the White House released a proposal for the massive $1.75 trillion social spending package. The reconciliation bill contains $550 billion for clean energy and climate investments, $400 billion for child care and preschool investments, and $40 billion for higher education and workforce. The legislation would increase the maximum Pell Grant by $550 for more than 5 million students and expand access to ‘Dreamers.’ It would also make investments in historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), tribal colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions. The proposal invests in access to quality training, such as community college workforce programs, sector-based training and apprenticeship programs. Under the bill, annual Department of Labor (DOL) spending on workforce development would increase by 50% for each of the next five years.

The White House said the cost of the framework is offset by nearly $2 trillion in revenue created by investments in IRS enforcement to close the tax gap, a penalty rate for foreign corporations based in non-compliant countries, a 15% corporate minimum tax on large companies, closing a Medicare Self-Employment Tax loophole, adding a surtax on multimillionaires and billionaires, limiting business loss for wealthy individuals, repealing a Trump era rebate rule on prescriptions and a 1% tax on corporate stock buybacks.

The House Rules Committee was originally planning to mark up the package on Monday, November 1, but has delayed the process for additional time to ‘craft language and get final agreement with all parties involved.’ According to sources, the committee is still planning a vote this week but exactly when is still unknown.

Click here to access a fact sheet on the framework.

Click here to read the USCM press release on the framework.

Appropriations/Debt Limit

Congressional leaders and the White House still need to negotiate a deal to fund the government and act on the debt limit by a December 3 deadline, but work on both won’t likely begin until Democrats have passed their social spending package and the bipartisan infrastructure bill. On Friday, October 29, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) released a projection that gave a two-month window for the U.S. default date — sometime between mid-December and mid-February — absent any congressional action. House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro invited her Senate counterparts to meet this week to start work on a bipartisan government funding deal but Republicans are skeptical about Democrats’ willingness to make major concessions to get support from at least 10 GOP senators. Republicans are insisting on the addition of the ban on federal funding being used to provide abortions, as well as an initial deal on the two spending top lines for defense and non-defense programs, before they begin negotiations on the 12 appropriations bills.

Vaccine Mandate ETS Coming Soon

On Monday, November 1, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that the Biden administration's vaccine mandate for businesses being developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will be published soon. OSHA has been crafting an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to enact the mandate, which requires that all companies with 100 employees or more must require vaccines or provide weekly testing for employees.

According to DOL, the Office of Management and Budget has completed its regulatory review of the emergency temporary standard and The Federal Register will publish the emergency temporary standard “in the coming days."

Initial Jobless Claims

In the week ending October 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 281,000, a decrease of 10,000 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 1,000 from 290,000 to 291,000. The 4-week moving average was 299,250, a decrease of 20,750 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 250 from 319,750 to 320,000. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.7 percent for the week ending October 16, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's unrevised rate.

Click here to access the full report.

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