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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - November 8th, 2021

Biden to Sign Infrastructure Bill; Social Spending Package Delayed

Washington Update

Infrastructure Bill/Social Spending Package

On Friday, November 5, the House passed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill - sending it to President Biden’s desk for signature and marking the first milestone in the President’s economic agenda. The House voted 228-206 with 13 Republicans voting in favor and six Democrats voting against it. Congress will now turn its attention to the nearly $2 trillion social spending bill, the Build Back Better Act, which is still being negotiated by lawmakers.

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA) said the group reached a deal to back the infrastructure plan in exchange for a commitment to take up the safety-net bill no later than the week of November 15. On Saturday, November 6, the House passed a key procedural party-line vote to set the stage for eventual passage of the Build Back Better Act.

Last week, House Democrats released a revised draft of the Build Back Better framework that added back provisions for a paid-leave program, immigration, a State and Local Tax deduction cap, and $500 million for college completion grants.

The bill sets out $5 billion in spending over a five-year period for community college and industry partnership grants, awarded by the Education secretary in coordination with the Labor secretary, that establish industry or sector partnerships to expand workforce development programs in high-skill, high-wage, or in-demand industry sectors or occupations. The Education Department would receive $1.4 billion to carry out workforce development programs over a six-year period, which includes $700 million for adult education and literacy programs authorized under WIOA, with at least ten percent of those funds reserved for the education of incarcerated and institutionalized people. The other half of the money would be devoted to career and technical education programs. Under the bill, Pell grant awards would increase by $550 - the current maximum award is $6,495.

The $500 million for college completion grants would finance the first federal program devoted to ensuring more low-income students and students of color graduate. Under the bill, states would apply for completion grant funding and submit plans detailing how they would spend it. The bill also reserves some funding to expand or replicate existing completion programs.

The bill also includes universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year olds to help millions of children prepare better for school and also enable parents of young children to return to the workforce earlier. It also caps childcare costs at 7% of income for parents earning up to 250% of a state’s median income. The legislation provides 4 weeks of federal paid parental, sick or caregiver leave and a year of expanded Child Tax Credits, and extends pandemic-era Affordable Care Act subsidies. It also includes $500 billion to combat climate change, largely through clean energy tax credits and raises the State and Local Tax deduction limit from $10,000 to $80,000.

The House is on recess this week but returns the week of November 13 and if there is a CBO score by then, it’s possible the House could move immediately to a final vote on the legislation. Once passed in the House, the legislation would be sent to the Senate that would likely pass a different version of the bill, which would require another House vote. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) has set a Thanksgiving target to pass the larger Democratic bill.

Click here to access the White House fact sheet on the framework.

Click here to access the House Committee on Education and Labor fact sheet.

Click here for a section-by-section analysis of the bill.

Click here to access the full legislation.

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

Data for Opportunity in Occupation Reskilling Solution

The Data for Opportunity in Occupation Reskilling Solution (DOORS) program, launched in Rhode Island using CARES Act funding and that expanded to Hawaii with the help of $2 million form Amazon, uses artificial intelligence (AI) and unemployment insurance data to match workers with training programs and new jobs, based on their past experience and which industries are expanding in their state. Described by Research Improving People’s Lives CEO Scott Jensen, former Rhode Island Labor Director, as “Netflix for jobs,” the program could help get more Americans back to work as they reconsider their careers. The program uses AI and administrative wage data from unemployment insurance programs for the benefit of people looking for new jobs. Expanding it to other states can be a challenge. Rhode Island’s DOORS program has its own website while Hawaii’s version is built into its unemployment insurance website. Each state houses its jobless benefit data separately and starting Hawaii’s DOORS program took four months of reviewing data-sharing agreements with state lawyers. Monique Claiborne, President of Greater Portland Inc., is working to bring a similar platform to that area.


On Thursday, November 4, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its new emergency temporary standard (ETS) to protect workers from the spread of coronavirus on the job. Under this standard, covered employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose to either be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work. OSHA is offering robust compliance assistance to help businesses implement the standard, which can be found at this landing page.

Under the ETS, employers with at least 100 employees will be required to adopt a mandatory vaccination policy unless they adopt a policy requiring unvaccinated workers to undergo weekly testing and wear a face covering at work. Covered employers must provide paid time for workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine and ensure workers have paid sick leave to recover from any side effects that prevent them from working. Employers must comply with most provisions by 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register, and comply with the testing requirement by 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register. Businesses that don’t comply may face significant OSHA fines.

Click here to access the ETS on Vaccination and Testing.

Click here to learn more about compliance dates.

Click here to submit comments, feedback, or information on the ETS you would like the agency to consider (Docket Number OSHA-2021-0007).

Click here to consult OSHA’s “How to Participate fact sheet” to learn more about the process.

Click here for fact sheets, FAQs, and compliance assistance materials.

USCM WDC/SEED Publication

The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) Workforce Development Council (WDC) is proud to formally release its newest publication “Providing Effective Workforce Development Services to Individuals with Disabilities in a Limited Resource Environment.” This “toolkit” was created in partnership with the Department of Labor’s State Exchange on Employment & Disability (SEED) initiative.

The publication spotlights creative and innovative ways mayors, cities, and workforce development boards can assess issues and construct city-wide programs that focus on improving workforce inclusivity for individuals with disabilities. There are 21 different cities and 8 different American Job Centers featured in the toolkit.

Click here to access Providing Effective Workforce Development Services to Individuals with Disabilities in a Limited Resource Environment.

If you need any additional information or would like to know more about a specific program featured in the toolkit, please be sure to contact Kevin Verge(

Unemployment Rate

On Friday, November 5, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the October jobs report, which indicated the U.S. added 531,000 jobs last month - dropping the unemployment rate to 4.6% and showing signs that the economy is recovering. Data for September was revised higher to show 312,000 jobs created instead of the previously reported 194,000. There are concerns the Administration’s vaccine mandate that goes into effect on January 4 and applies to federal government contractors and businesses with 100 or more employees could intensify worker shortages.

Click here to access the full BLS report.

Click here to read the statement from Secretary Walsh.

Click here to read Chief Economist Janelle Jones’ blog post.

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