United States Capitol building at night

Legislative Update – March 7, 2022

The American Workforce Coalition is pleased to provide you, our Members, with the latest update on legislative activities impacting the workforce aspirations of older Americans.

State of the Union

President Biden gave his State of the Union address last Tuesday, March 1st.  Looking through the workforce development lens for older workers, the President called for the need to provide more worker training and apprenticeships, and for more skills-based hiring. As many of in the workforce arena know, degrees are bad proxies for critical skills. President Biden also called raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

To view a copy of the President’s full remarks, click here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2022/03/01/remarks-of-president-joe-biden-state-of-the-union-address-as-delivered/.

“Building a Better America” (possibly Build Back Better redux?)

After the “death” of the Build Back Better (BBB) legislation in December 2021, informal conversations have been taking place between Senator Manchin (D-WV) and the White House on a possible new reconciliation package. The tagline of the President’s State of the Union address was “Building a Better America,” and this tagline may represent the new name for a pivot to new social spending legislation. But time is short as the window for the passage of a reconciliation bill closing before the August Congressional recess.

Important to Senator Manchin is changing the tax code around prescription drug savings and other tax reform. The Senator wants the tax revenue to go to reducing the federal deficit and inflation on one side, and climate and energy policies on the other.

But there is opposition within the Democratic party to raising individual and corporate taxes. To pass a reconciliation bill, all 50 Democratic Senators would need to be satisfied.

 March 11 Continuing Resolution & FY 22 Appropriations

The current Continuing Resolution (CR) is set to expire at midnight this Friday, March 11th.  Congress must either pass a FY22 spending measure or another CR to prevent a partial government shutdown.  While House and Senate appropriators continue to deal with components of the 12 appropriations bills, Senator Shelby (R-AL), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, shared last week that if appropriators do not wrap up negotiations by Tuesday, Congress will need to pass another CR.  While Democrats want to pass an omnibus spending package by the March 11th deadline, the introduction from the White House for supplemental funding for aid for Ukraine and COVID-19 prevention may be sticking points for Republicans, and as such, will require more time for Congress to discuss.

For SCSEP, the FY22 Omnibus Appropriations bill provide the opportunity for the SCSEP budget to grow on July 1, 2022, from its current $405 million to a new funding level.  Both the House and Senate appropriators recommended funding increases for SCSEP for FY22: the House recommended $450 million and the Senate $410 million.

 President’s FY 23 Federal Government Budget

We are expecting the White House to release the President’s FY 23 proposed budget later this month, with speculation that Monday, March 28th will be the release date. The delays in FY22 Appropriations are delaying the budget timeline. As reported previously, the Administration wants to Congress to finalize FY22 appropriations first so that it will have a baseline with which to compare their FY23 proposal.

 New Federal Grant Opportunities focused on Workforce

Last week, DOL”s Employment & Training Administration (ETA) released two (2) Funding Opportunity Announcements:

  1. Apprenticeship Building America (ABA) Grants – FOA-ETA-22-06 on www.grants.gov.  Applications are due April 25, 2022 for 20 to 30 grant awards ranging from $1M to $8M; and
  2. Strengthening Community College Training Grants (SCC) Round Two Grants – FOA-ETA-22-02 on www.grants.gov. Applications are due June 2, 2022 for 12 to 16 grant awards of $45 M.

Workforce Hearing Focused on the Ongoing Labor Shortage & Possible Solutions

The Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development will hold a hearing titled: “Skill, Upskill, and Reskill: Analyzing New Investments in Workforce Development.”

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Participating members of Congress can also join remotely via Zoom.

Despite the labor market recovering most of the jobs lost during the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an ongoing labor shortage since mid-2021. This has particularly impacted small firms, that had already been struggling with recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce. This hearing will examine the factors contributing to the workforce shortage and discuss potential solutions, including changes to the workforce development system, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and other proposals. To watch the hearing live and on-line, click here: https://smallbusiness.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=4178