Government Shutdown Averted
On Friday, September 30, President Joe Biden signed a short-term continuing resolution (CR) bill into law - averting a partial government shutdown and funding the government through December 16. The House passed the spending bill earlier that day in a 230-201 vote and the Senate cleared it on Thursday in a vote of 72-23. The package did not contain Senator Joe Manchin’s (WV) measure on permitting reforms after strong opposition from both Republicans and Democrats. It did, however, include $12 billion to assist Ukraine but not the $22.4 billion requested by the White House to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio are asking appropriators to provide aid for the state following the devastation of Hurricane Ian. House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (CT) acknowledged that congressional leaders may have to consider additional disaster relief funding before the end of the year. With the government now funded through mid-December, congressional appropriators can focus on a bipartisan, bicameral year-end spending deal.
Click here to read the press release on the bill, which includes a link to the full text and a section-by-section summary.
On Friday, September 30, the White House announced that the Biden-Harris Administration awarded more than $225 million in American Rescue Plan funds to train over 13,000 Community Health Workers (CHWs) in response to the need to expand the health care workforce and address pandemic-related burnout. The Department of Health and Human Services is investing $225.5 million in community health workers and $40.7 million in public health scholarships. The $225.5 million will go to 83 grantees as part of the Community Health Worker Training Program, which will support training and apprenticeships for some 13,000 new community health workers. The $40.7 million will go to 29 grantees through the Public Health Scholarship Program to incentivize people to pursue training and careers in public health, including as epidemiologists and other positions critical to community public health needs.
Click here to read the full press release.
Independent Contractor Rule
On Wednesday, September 28, the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs concluded its review of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) new independent contractor rule - one of the final steps in the rulemaking process. There is debate around when workers should be classified as independent contractors - frequently used by tech companies and in trucking and construction - or full employees who are due overtime, minimum wages, and other protections and benefits provided under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employers are concerned that the rule may parallel the model that former Obama-era Director of the DOL Wage and Hour Division David Weil launched when he held the position, but are confident it won’t include the ABC Test - a three-prong set of standards employers must meet if they want to classify a worker as an independent contractor. Employers are wary of any policy mirroring the model's economic realities test, which directs DOL to take into account a wide array of factors like employer control and workers' own investments in equipment when determining employee status. The rule is expected to be published this week.
Senate HELP Confirmations
On Thursday, September 29, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee pushed back voting on several of President Biden’s nominees to key labor agency positions as Congress pushed to pass a short-term continuing resolution. A new date has not yet been set. The nominations of Jessica Looman for the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division; Karla Gilbride for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission General Counsel; and Moshe Marvit to be a member of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission will remain in limbo. On Thursday, September 29, the Senate confirmed Lisa Gomez to head the Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.
Department of Education
On Tuesday, September 27, the U.S. Department of Education announced new investments under the Supporting Effective Education Development (SEED) program to further address the teacher shortage and help ensure long-term investments in teacher pipeline and development programs across the U.S. The awards include 22 new three-year grants that total more than $60 million. The SEED program supports evidence-based practices that prioritize educators’ growth across the continuum of their careers. In this year’s SEED competition, the Department directed funding to projects designed to support educator workforce through high-quality, comprehensive teacher preparation programs, including those with a strong track record of recruiting and placing underrepresented teacher candidates, and that include one year of high-quality clinical experiences. The Department also prioritized projects designed to help teachers create inclusive and equitable learning designed to meet students’ social, emotional, and academic needs.
Click here to access the full press release.
Initial Jobless Claims
In the week ending September 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 193,000, a decrease of 16,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 4,000 from 213,000 to 209,000. The 4-week moving average was 207,000, a decrease of 8,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 1,000 from 216,750 to 215,750. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.0 percent for the week ending September 17, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate.
Click here to access the report.