Legislative Updates – May 19, 2023
DOL ETA Workforce Convening
This week the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration held its three-day national convening, featuring plenary sessions which can be viewed here. A one-page overview of the conference highlights may be accessed here.
The major announcement was the WH’s Invest in America agenda. A detailed summary of this initiative can be found here, including an announcement of five workforce hubs in Phoenix, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Augusta, GA.
The Convening was also used to announce a $15 million Funding Opportunity Announcement for 10 demos for job quality grants in high demand sectors.
House Education and Workforce Committee Hearing on the President’s FY 24 Education Budget Request
On Tuesday, the House Education and Workforce Committee held a nearly five-hour hearing with testimony from Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, his first appearance before the Committee this Congress. The hearing was contentious at times, and covered issues such as oversight, student loans, parental rights, transgender participation in sports, universal community college, charter schools, apprenticeships, and workforce Pell. Our memo on the hearing may be accessed here.
Department of Education Releases Proposed Gainful Employment, Ability to Benefit Regulations
On Wednesday, the Department of Education released its proposed gainful employment and ability to benefit regulations. The proposed regulations, which also includes rules on financial responsibility, administrative capability, and certification procedures, were published in the Federal Register today, and comments are due no later than June 20. The Department expects to finalize the rules later this year. Rules finalized by November 1, 2023, will go into effect on July 1, 2024.
Separately, the Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague Letter this week on Third-Party Servicers. Like the Department’s April 11 blog post, the letter states the Department plans to issue a final revised Dear Colleague Letter with an effective date at least six months after its publication.
House Education and Workforce Committee Student Loan Hearing
On Wednesday, May 24, at 10:15am Eastern, the House Education and Workforce Committee’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development will hold a hearing entitled, “Breaking the System Part II: Examining the Implications of Biden’s Student Loan Policies for Students and Taxpayers”. The hearing is a follow up to the Subcommittee’s March 23 hearing on President Biden’s student loan policies.
the June 1 date by which Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the Treasury will likely no longer be able to satisfy all of the government’s obligations nears, debt limit negotiations gained some momentum this week. President Biden said he was optimistic about reaching a deal, Speaker McCarthy said he saw a path that negotiators could come to an agreement, and the stock market hit a high for 2023. However, earlier today, Speaker McCarthy’s (R-CA) negotiator Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) said negotiations are now on pause, citing a lack of productivity in the talks.
Democrats and Republicans remain divided on a number of issues. Funding levels is of course an issue, with Republicans pushing for spending cuts to FY 22 levels, though Speaker McCarthy indicated he is open to counting rescinded Covid funds, which could total around $56 billion, as part of the $131 billion in discretionary cuts that would be needed to return to FY 2022 levels. Republicans prefer ten-year budget caps, while Democrats prefer just two years. President Biden would like to see a debt limit extension past the 2024 election and into 2025, while House Republicans’ bill lifted the limit through March 2024.
Speaker McCarthy this week said that including work requirements for federal benefits was a red-line for him. President Biden has signaled that he would not consider work requirements for Medicaid. While the Administration left wiggle room for TANF and SNAP, President Biden said he would not accept work requirements of any consequence. However, rescinding unspent Covid funding is one policy that looks likely to be included in any agreement, and permitting reform is being considered.
Speaker McCarthy had hoped to reach an agreement in a matter of days. President Biden returns from Japan on Sunday after canceling the remainder of his international travel, saying earlier this week that he’d be returning for final negotiations. While McCarthy would like to see the House can take up a debt limit bill next week, that timeline is ambitious given negotiations are currently said to be on pause. The House is scheduled to be on recess the week after next, though that could change.
McCarthy said the House should move first on a bill after a deal is reached, and that he intends to give members 72 hours to read the bill before voting on it. The Senate is on recess through Memorial Day, though Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) advised senators to be ready to return on 24 hour’s notice, if needed. If an agreement is reached, both parties will still have their work cut out for them in selling the agreement to their members.
FY 24 Appropriations
Appropriations kicked into gear in the House, where Subcommittees marked up four bills (Military Construction-VA, Legislative Branch, Homeland Security, and Agriculture) this week. Originally, appropriators also planned to take up the Defense and Energy-Water bills in Subcommittee this week two, though they are on hold, along with the Financial Services bill. On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Full Committee will mark up two of those bills (Military Construction-VA and Legislative Branch). The Labor-HHS bill, which funds workforce and education programming, is likely to be the last bill passed in the House, with substantial cuts still expected.
In the Senate, Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME) both said they are committed to working together and starting markups in June. Discussions to set a topline in the Senate are on hold pending the ongoing debt limit negotiations. Chair Murray and Ranking Member Collins are still discussing which of the 12 annual funding bills will move first.
New America, Advance CTE Webinar on Youth Apprenticeship
On Tuesday, May 23, from 2-3pm Eastern, New America will hold an online-only webinar, “Leveraging Federal Resources for Career-Connected Learning to Advance Youth Apprenticeship”. The webinar will feature a conversation with Luke Rhine, Deputy Assistant Secretary of OCTAE at the Department of Education.
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