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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - October 25th, 2021

Senate Unveils Spending Bills; Infrastructure Vote Likely This Week


Washington Update

Infrastructure Bill/Social Spending Package

On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) said that Democrats plan to have an agreement on a framework for President Biden’s sweeping social spending package and a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill in the next week. The goal among Democratic leaders is to have a vote Wednesday, October 27, or Thursday, October 28, on the infrastructure package and send it to the President’s desk. Democrats hope to have a detailed agreement on the social spending package before the infrastructure vote to help convince progressives to vote for the bipartisan package.

Appropriations

On Monday, October 18, Senate Democrats unveiled the nine remaining funding bills adding to the three the Senate Appropriations Committee previously considered. Congress must pass the 12 spending measures to keep the government funded past the December 3 deadline. Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy (VT) conceded the 12 bills were not likely to be signed into law because they will require at least 10 Republican votes, but that unveiling the bills will show where Democrats stand. Senate Republicans have already voiced opposition to the bills - calling for defense and non-defense spending to be increased equally. They argue lawmakers must agree on top-line funding levels for each of the 12 spending bills before the process can move forward.

The Senate Democratic appropriations bill would fund Labor, HHS, and Education at nearly $221 billion for FY22. The Department of Labor would be appropriated $15.1 billion, according to an explanatory statement, which is a $1.2 billion increase from the previous fiscal year but $417 million less than the White House requested. That would include an additional $893 million for the Employment and Training Administration; $74 million additional for OSHA; and a $30 million increase for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, among others.

Click here to access the highlights sheet on the bill.

Click here to read the press release.

Nominations

On Tuesday, October 26, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee plans to vote on the nominations of José Javier Rodríguez to lead Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and Larry Turner to serve as Department of Labor’s inspector general. Just 27 percent of key positions at the Department of Labor have been filled by Biden’s nominees, according to the Partnership for Public Service’s tracker of political appointees. At least one position is held by a holdover appointee from previous administrations, per the tracker. Eight nominees are awaiting action by the Senate, including Biden’s pick to head OSHA — an especially critical role given the ongoing pandemic. Considering the chamber’s packed agenda this fall, it’s possible those nominees might not see movement on the floor anytime soon.

Initial Jobless Claims

In the week ending October 16, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 290,000, a decrease of 6,000 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 293,000 to 296,000. The 4-week moving average was 319,750, a decrease of 15,250 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 334,250 to 335,000. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.8 percent for the week ending October 9, 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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