Government Funding Negotiations To Take Shape
It is clear that Congress won't be able to pass all 12 appropriations bills by the end of the fiscal year, and both parties agree that a stopgap funding bill is needed. Democratic and Republican leaders must still reach agreement, however, on how long it will last and what they will attach to the continuing resolution. Democratic leaders are considering a CR that extends funding until either December 9 or December 16, but they haven’t picked an end date yet.
The Biden administration is seeking to include $47 billion in emergency funding for the war in Ukraine and to combat the covid pandemic and the spread of monkeypox, as well as resources to address natural disasters, in a continuing resolution that could run into early December. Meanwhile, Democrats are considering whether to attach legislation that would codify same-sex marriage rights to a must-pass measure that would avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month.
Both Republicans and Democrats are sure to have other policy demands, including over abortion, immigration and a host of other contentious issues. We expect negotiations that will push into the 11th hour, as this is how Congress has worked in recent years, and a potential government shutdown is always looming ahead of the midterm elections.
On Wednesday, August 31, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wrote a joint letter to state and local education leaders and workforce officials urging creation of registered apprenticeship programs that could use federal resources for career-building activities to address the teacher shortage. That same day, the White House Domestic Policy Council hosted a meeting to discuss solutions to the teacher shortage crisis. Participants included First Lady Jill Biden, Secretary Cardona, Secretary Walsh, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, teachers union leaders, private business executives and others. They discussed a variety of solutions to the educator shortage problem including promising practices for private-public collaboration between school systems and talent recruitment and job platforms.
Secretary Walsh told participants that an apprenticeship program that combines classroom instruction with hands-on job experience “breaks down the barriers to good jobs.” He said such programs can also provide equity in job attainment and encourage diversity in the workforce. The Labor Department’s next round of apprenticeship funding will include $100 million prioritized for the education sector, he said. Meeting participants also talked about the need to boost teacher pay as well as respect for the education profession. The letter recommends states and school districts use American Rescue Plan funds to pay competitive wages to teachers, paraprofessionals and other staff; however, those funds are only temporary, so it advises states and communities to plan for sustained staffing levels needed to support students. The letter also suggests that governors, county commissioners and mayors help schools support staff recruitment and retention with the $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.
Click here to read the letter.
Build Back Better Regional Challenge
On Friday, September 2, President Biden announced the 21 winners of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, which is funded by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and administered by the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA). The Regional Challenge provides each award winner with funding to rebuild regional economies, promote inclusive and equitable recovery, and create thousands of good-paying jobs in industries of the future such as clean energy, next-generation manufacturing, and biotechnology.
Awardees span 24 states and will receive between $25 million and $65 million to execute transformational projects and revitalize local industries. Projects include developing workforce training programs and connecting workers to jobs; providing support to family-owned manufacturers to transition from traditional automotives to electric vehicles; establishing a digital finance sector to support small businesses in Tribal communities; providing digital resources to small farms; renovating and repurposing industrial buildings for new businesses; rebuilding pharmaceutical supply chains in the U.S. to lower drug costs; building advanced manufacturing centers for testing and training, deploying solar energy on former coal land, and more. Additionally, private sector companies and local organizations are investing an additional $300 million in these local projects.
Click here to access the press release.
American Manufacturing Bills
Since November 2021, Congress has passed three major bills that prioritize American-made materials and products - the CHIPS and Science Act, the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. All three bills include incentives and tax credits for U.S.-based manufacturing and assembly. The Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law on August 16, provides tax credits for renewable energy products that meet thresholds for American-made products and components. All steel and iron must be manufactured entirely in the U.S. but some other products and components have lower domestic content requirements. On August 9 the CHIPS and Science Act was signed into law and includes $50 billion in measures aimed at strengthening the semiconductor industry through incentives for domestic manufacturing and funding toward research as well as tax credits for domestic investments in semiconductor manufacturing. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was signed into law on November 15 and requires federal agencies to prioritize American-made materials and products in federally funded infrastructure projects, including buildings, public transportation and highways. The requirements apply to new projects and maintenance and repair of existing infrastructure. The domestic content requirement does not apply to equipment and supplies used in construction, like scaffolding, or movable furnishings, such as desks or chairs.
Click here to access the datasheet.
On Friday, September 2, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the August jobs report which saw an increase of nonfarm payroll by 315,000 and a slight uptick of 0.2% in the unemployment rate to 3.7 percent. The increase is attributed to about 786,000 people entering the labor force that are re-entering the labor force and now looking for work. The labor force participation rate grew by 0.3 percentage points to 62.4%.
Click here to access the report.
Click here to access Secretary Walsh’s statement on the August jobs report.