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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - October 18th, 2021

Democrats Aim to Pass Spending Bills By End of October

Washington Update

Infrastructure Bill/Social Spending Package

Congressional lawmakers are returning from recess this week and face a final showdown over the two key multi-trillion-dollar spending bills that are cornerstones of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) have said they are looking to pass the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill as well as the Democrats’ social spending package by October 31 - when a short-term extension of highway funding is set to expire.

On Wednesday, October 13, several members of Congress sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer, House Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth (KY) and Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (VT) in support of providing no less than $80 billion in workforce development funding in the Build Back Better Act. Led by Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (OR), Andy Levin (MI), Barbara Lee (CA), and Frederica Wilson (FL), the letter seeks to preserve the $80 million included in the House Education and Labor Committee’s portion of the legislation - an amount which is critical in order for workforce development programs to help adult, youth, and dislocated workers across the country obtain the education and skills needed to find and retain quality jobs.

Click here to read the letter.

Community College for All

On Friday, October 15, in a speech at the University of Connecticut on his “Build Back Better” agenda, President Biden expressed doubt that his plan for tuition free community college will make it into the final budget reconciliation bill. He later clarified to reporters that he didn’t think he could get the full $109 billion over 10 years he had originally requested in his proposal. Meanwhile, in a television interview on Sunday, October 17, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona singled out community college for all as his key priority in the bill.

Also on Friday, at a Washington Post Live discussion on manufacturing, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh urged lawmakers to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the partisan social spending package as quickly as possible. Secretary Walsh spent much of the event emphasizing the importance of investing in workforce development — which President Biden wants to boost by $100 billion.

HHS ARP Funding

On Thursday, October 14, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the availability of $100 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding for state-run programs that support, recruit, and retain primary care clinicians who live and work in underserved communities. This funding represents a five-fold increase to the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP), and helps improve health equity by ensuring that clinicians working in high-need communities remain in them. HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce is accepting applications for these grants from all 50 states, Washington DC and U.S. territories. HRSA estimates that it will make up to 50 awards of $1 million per year over the program’s four-year projected period.

Click here to read a press release on the funding.

Click here to learn more about the State Loan Repayment Program.

Initial Jobless Claims

In the week ending October 9, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 293,000, a decrease of 36,000 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 3,000 from 326,000 to 329,000. The 4-week moving average was 334,250, a decrease of 10,500 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 750 from 344,000 to 344,750. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.9 percent for the week ending October 2, 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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