Legislative Updates – May 12, 2023
On Thursday, the House passed H.R. 1163, the “Protecting Taxpayers and Victims of Unemployment Fraud Act”, largely along party lines. Ten Democrats supported the bill, along with every Republican. The bill provides incentives to states to recapture pandemic UI overpayments and also would claw back unobligated DOL ARPA funds for UI modernization efforts. The prospects for the bill are uncertain in the Senate and the Administration issued a veto threat earlier this week.
Also on Thursday, the Education and Workforce Committee’s Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee held a hearing entitled “Examining America’s Workforce Challenges: Looking for Ways to Improve Skills Development”, which was a bipartisan discussion of ideas for improving the workforce system in anticipation for WIOA reauthorization. CHP’s summary of the hearing can be found here.
DOL to host a national workforce convening
On May 16-18, DOL will host the “2023 DOL ETA Vision 2030 Workforce Convening” with 450 attendees from around the nation. Links to the livestream of the plenary sessions and the meeting agenda can be found here.
Debt Ceiling and FY 24 Funding
A second meeting of President Biden and Congressional leaders was called off to allow staff to continue discussions on the parameters of any deal. One of the many challenges facing negotiators is the calendar, as next week is the last in which both chambers are in session before the June 1st potential deadline for a debt limit breach – though the exact date is still uncertain. However, leadership could call Congress back into session for votes if a deal is reached.
Debt ceiling negotiations are also directly tied to the FY 24 appropriations process, as any agreement will likely provide top line spending levels for FY 24. Republicans are also seeking to impose discretionary spending caps for the next decade that would only allow a 1% increase per year during this period, though Democrats have only been willing to entertain a two-year spending caps agreement in tandem with a debt limit extension of equal length.
While it is unclear whether long term spending caps will be included in any debt limit deal, these negotiations are expected to slow the pace of House Appropriations bills — though Appropriators still hope to move all of their bills, including the Labor-HHS bill, through Committee before the July 4th recess.
On the Senate side, Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and ranking member Susan Collins (R-ME) have put a hold on moving any appropriations bills, pending the resolution of the debt ceiling negotiations.
CBO releases new timetable on debt limit breach
Earlier on Friday, the Congressional Budget Office provided its own assessment on the timing on reaching the debt limit, projecting a significant risk of a breach in the first two weeks of June — but if the Treasury is able to make its June payments on the debt, an influx of corporate tax receipts will push the next potential risk for breaching the debt limit until “at least the end of July.”
Ultimately, it will be the Treasury Department that determines the exact date the debt limit will be breached. CBO’s report maintains pressure on Congressional negotiators to reach agreement before June 1, with the caveat that the actual debt limit breach may not occur until well into the summer – potentially providing negotiators with more time in case initial attempts to reach an agreement fall apart.
On Wednesday, the House Education and Workforce Committee passed H.J. Res. 45, a Congressional Review Act resolution to nullify the Administration’s loan forgiveness plan, which is currently on hold while awaiting a decision on its legality from the Supreme Court.
The resolution is one of the few pieces of legislation that can be passed by a simple majority vote on both the House and Senate floors, though it still needs to be signed by the President to be enacted – and in this particular case, will incur a Presidential veto.
On Thursday, Secretary Cardona testified before the Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee.
Cardona committed that there will be no more student loan repayment extensions, and repayment would begin sixty days after the Supreme Court renders its decision on loan cancelation. In addition, the simplified FAFSA will be implemented in 2023, and the Department is continuing to explore short-term Pell although it is not included the FY24 budget request. Secretary Cardona also shared that the Pell for prisoners program is a period of expansion and will work with current prison education providers to overcome implementation challenges. Please find a link to CHP’s summary of this hearing.
In addition, Cardona will be testifying this coming Tuesday at 10:15AM in the House Education and Workforce Committee on the Department of Education’s policies and priorities. It promises to be a spirited hearing, as Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC) stated in her hearing notice:
“The wheels are falling off at the Department. Reckless spending proposals, policymaking by press release, backroom charades, and a radical vision for K-12 and postsecondary education have become the norm inside the Department… Before the Department gets another cent of taxpayer money, Secretary Cardona must answer for his agency’s harmful policies that have repeatedly failed students.”
The hearing will be livestreamed on the Committee’s YouTube channel.
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