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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - September 25, 2023

Government Shutdown and Child Care Cliff Loom; GAO Report Says Su Can Stay

Washington Update


In observance of Yom Kippur, the House and Senate will not return until tomorrow night, Tuesday, September 26. When they reconvene, House Republicans will begin debate on four of the twelve annual appropriations funding bills ahead of the looming September 30 deadline to avoid a government shutdown. The bills cover the Departments of Defense, Agriculture, Homeland Security, and State. While Republicans hold a slim majority in the House, 221-212, at least seven conservative lawmakers have told Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (CA) they will oppose any short-term stopgap funding measure as the group pushes for consideration of each individual spending bill. The House has had difficulty coming to an agreement on funding, and Speaker McCarthy scrapped plans to vote on an initial stopgap measure which was on the schedule last week, given GOP opposition.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) will try to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open until November or December with the details of that CR still being negotiated. Even if the Senate passes a CR this week, it is unlikely that McCarthy will even bring it up for a vote because it would not pass the House without Democratic support, which could cost him the speakership.

There seems to be growing likelihood for a government shutdown as Congress struggles to negotiate funding bills that will pass both chambers. There is one possible solution known as a discharge petition — a procedural tactic by which a majority of the House can bypass McCarthy and force a floor vote on legislation — that could be used to bring a CR up for vote if McCarthy won’t do it. Bringing a discharge petition to the floor is a lengthy process; however, there is one Democrats moved earlier this year as a safety measure against Republicans failing to lift the debt limit that is already signed by all House Democrats. To force it to the floor, only five Republicans are needed to sign it as long as no Democrats remove their names. Discharge petitions are complicated procedurally - only two have ever become law — and there is no way to bring one to the floor before the deadline. Once it has 218 signatures, House rules dictate that the lawmakers who signed it must wait seven legislative days before one of them can move forward. Following the waiting period, the lawmaker can call up the discharge motion “at a time or place, designated by the Speaker, in the legislative schedule within two legislative days after the day on which a Member whose signature appears thereon to the House an intention to offer the motion.”

House WIOA Hearing

On Wednesday, September 20 at 10:15 am ET, the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, chaired by Congressman Burgess Owens (UT), held a hearing titled “Strengthening WIOA: Improving Outcomes for Jobseekers, Employers, and Taxpayers.” WDC Board member CareerSource South Florida Executive Director Rick Beasley provided witness testimony during this hearing. At the hearing, Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA) brought up Pell Grants providing access to short-term programs, while Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (NC) focused her questions on better metrics and accountability. A major focus of the hearing was flexibility and ways to revamp WIOA so it provides the needed flexibility to keep up with quickly changing workforce demands and doesn’t impede innovation.

Click here to access witness testimony and access the livestream.

American Climate Corps

On Thursday, September 21, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the launch of the American Climate Corps, a workforce training and service initiative to get more young people access to the skills-based training needed for well-paying jobs in the clean energy and climate resilience sector. The American Climate Corps is part of the President’s dual push to create jobs and tackle climate change and was formally proposed in the Build Back Better Act as the Civilian Climate Corps but got removed from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) during negotiations. According to the Administration, the Corps will be implemented among six federal agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Energy and Labor, through a formal agreement to share existing authority and resources. Other federal entities, such as AmeriCorps, would implement the program. The first formal American Climate Corps project is Forest Corps — a five-year $15 million initiative between AmeriCorps and the U.S. Forest Service. As part of the American Climate Corps program, five additional states (Arizona, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Utah) will launch climate corps programs through public-private partnerships. The Climate Corps will dedicate thousands of workers to invest in communities across the country, and help match workers to apprenticeship and training programs to connect job seekers with opportunities in high-demand fields.

Click here to access the White House press release.

Child Care Stabilization Act

Last week, a bicameral group of Democratic lawmakers introduced the Child Care Stabilization Act to extend federal child care stabilization funding, which is set to expire on September 30. The legislation would ensure that child care providers can continue serving children and families after the $24 billion in American Rescue Plan child care stabilization funding runs out. The legislation would provide $16 billion in mandatory funding each year for the next five years to continue the Child Care Stabilization Grant program and ensure providers continue to receive a stable and reliable source of funding to help them deliver high-quality and affordable child care services.

Click here to access a one-page summary of the bill.

GAO Report on Acting Secretary Su

On Thursday, September 21, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report that said the Biden Administration is not violating any federal law by allowing acting Labor Secretary Julie Su to serve indefinitely, and that Su can remain in her position as interim head of the Department of Labor. The report concluded that Su’s tenure as acting Secretary of Labor does not fall under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act and is not subject to its time limitations. The report says that, since taking over while serving as deputy Labor secretary, Su’s role as acting secretary is instead governed by another law that deals specifically with the vacancy of the Labor secretary. This law does not include time constraints on the acting Labor secretary’s tenure until a successor is appointed. The GAO’s report was issued in response to a request from House Education and the Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (NC). Following the release of the report, Foxx called on Congress to pass legislation to bring the Labor Department under the purview of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

Click here to access the full GAO report.

Initial Jobless Rate

In the week ending September 16, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 201,000, a decrease of 20,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 220,000 to 221,000. The 4-week moving average was 217,000, a decrease of 7,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 224,500 to 224,750. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.1 percent for the week ending September 9, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate.

Click here to access the full report.

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