United States Capitol building at night

Legislative Updates – May 5, 2023

House Education & Workforce Hearing on Workforce Challenges and Improving Skills Development

House Education and Workforce’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, Chaired by Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT), will a hold a hearing entitled, “Examining America’s Workforce Challenges: Looking for Ways to Improve Skills Development” on Thursday, May 11 at 10:15am Eastern. Hearing details will be posted here and may be viewed live here.

Debt Limit

Early this week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that as early as June 1, the U.S. could hit its debt limit and thus default on its debt, adding new urgency to the deadlocked debt limit negotiations.

After Sec. Yellen’s announcement, President Biden invited the four Congressional leaders—Speaker McCarthy (R-CA), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY)—to a meeting at the White House on Tuesday, May 9. All four leaders are expected to attend.

Next week’s meeting will be the first since President Biden and Speaker McCarthy met on February 1, though the parties are still dug into their positions and far from reaching any deal. President Biden is maintaining his position, also backed by Schumer and Jeffries, calling for a “clean” debt ceiling vote, and that any discussion on the FY 24 budget and appropriations process should be separate from the debt ceiling. Speaker McCarthy strengthened his bargaining position last week after passing, along party lines, a bill to raise the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion, or suspend it until March 31, 2024, whichever occurs first. The bill also includes a ten-year cap on spending, work requirements for federal programs, and other provisions.

Peaceful Transition of Power - Partisan Politics in Washington D.C.In the House, Democrats could use a discharge petition to bring a clean debt ceiling bill to the floor, but to do so they would need the support of five Republicans. In addition, the process is procedurally complex and would drag into early June.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Schumer has a bill that would extend the government’s borrowing ability through December 31, 2024, but first he wants to see how next week’s White House meeting goes. There is some speculation that Senate Minority Leader McConnell may ultimately help broker a debt limit agreement, though thus far McConnell has maintained a deal should be struck by Biden and McCarthy. As June 1 nears, Congress may choose to consider a short-term debt limit suspension to allow for more time to negotiate a larger deal.

Senate Appropriations Labor-H Subcommittee Hearing on the FY 24 Education Budget Request

On Thursday, May 11 at 10am Eastern the Senate Appropriation’s Labor-H Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the President’s FY 24 funding request and budget justification for the Department of Education. Sec. Cardona will testify. The hearing may be viewed live here.

Bipartisan Tax-Free Pell Grant Act Introduced in the House

Last week, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), and others introduced the bipartisan Tax-Free Pell Grant Act. The bill expands the use of Pell Grants on a tax-free basis, improves coordination with the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), and adds child and dependent care and computer costs as qualifying expenses for the AOTC. A press release may be accessed here and bill text may be accessed here.

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