December 7, 2023

Washington Wire: Increase in Workforce Funding Included in FY22 Omnibus



Increase in Workforce Funding Included in FY22 Omnibus
On March 15, 2022, President Biden signed into law the final spending bill for the 2022 fiscal year. The $1.5 trillion spending package included roughly $18.6 billion for workforce training programs supported by One Voice, an increase of $774 million over the FY21 enacted level. 
The omnibus funding measure includes $5.66 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) programs, an increase of $249 million when compared to the 2021 funding level. Congress also provided $10.5 billion for the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, which includes $933 million for Youth Training and $235 million for apprenticeship programs.  
The omnibus also provided $589 million for Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) basic state formula grant program, an increase of $45 million over the enacted level for FY21. This continues the steady increase in Perkins funding since 2017, thanks to the efforts of One Voice and our members.



China Competition Bill Moves Forward
On March 22, the Senate took a vital procedural step to move forward with legislation incentivizing manufacturing in America and counter China’s technological rise. Senators by a 66-29 vote amended the House-passed America COMPETES Act and replaced it with the text of the Senate’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, a needed step to launch the formal conference process. 
The House passed the legislation in February in response to the bipartisan Senate measure that cleared the upper chamber in June 2021. However, little progress has been made on launching the conference process. Members of Congress are now hoping to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate measures and have a final package by Memorial Day, or possibly the July 4th break. 
Both bills invest $52 billion to incentivize domestic semiconductor manufacturing, billions for STEM education and workforce, and funds to boost domestic production of critical goods to strengthen supply chains. They also place additional restrictions on exports to Chinese companies, incentivize manufacturers to leave China, and provides resources for domestic research and development.
One Voice is continuing to urge lawmakers to include in the final bill the JOBS Act to allow Pell Grants for short-term training, provisions to inform students about the costs of student debt, and additional resources for apprenticeships. If you have not already done so, you can contact your lawmaker here and urge them to pass the manufacturing supply chain competition bill and include support for workforce.



Apprenticeship Bill Introduced in House
Democrats in the House of Representatives have introduced a bill that would provide funding to encourage employer participation in apprenticeship programs. The Apprenticeship Support for Small Employers and Teams (ASSET) Act, introduced on March 17, 2022, by Reps. Lori Trahan (D-MA-03), Joe Morelle (D-NY-25), and Jason Crow (CO-06), would provide grants to small and medium-sized businesses through the Department of Labor to subsidize apprenticeship programs.  
The bill, H.R. 7145, would support the workforce development of small and medium-sized businesses by providing financial assistance to be used for apprenticeship programs including the creation or expansion of an apprenticeship program, incumbent worker training to participate as mentors or supervisors in an apprenticeship program, wages for apprentices, and technical assistance.
The legislation was first introduced in 2020 and passed in the House of Representatives as part of the National Apprenticeship Act. 



EPA Panel Formally Backs Lower Soot Standard
On March 18, 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) formally sent EPA Administrator Michael Regan their recommendation on tightening national soot standards. 
The seven-member CASAC recommended that the EPA strengthen the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter (PM2.5). EPA’s current annual primary exposure standard was set in 2012 at 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3); the daily primary threshold, dating back to 2006, is 35 µg/m3. The majority of the committee is recommending the annual limit be set somewhere in the range of 8-10 µg/m3, a minority calling for a range of 10-11 µg/m3. 
While EPA career staff has long supported the tightening of the annual limits , in a draft report released last fall EPA staff found the current daily limit to be adequate. The CASAC, however, disagrees and is recommending the 24-hour PM2.5 standard be lowered to somewhere in the range of 25-30 µg/m3.
The EPA plans to issue a proposal by this summer, with a final rule following by spring of next year that could impose limits on economic activity by manufacturers, producers, and other industries.



Administration Delays new China Section 301 Investigation
The White House has delayed the long-awaited decision on whether to initiate a new Section 301 investigation of China’s industrial subsidies that could result in additional tariffs on products imported from China. 
While the discussions within the administration are still ongoing, sources have said the action has been delayed due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as disagreements on the scope of a new probe between the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the Commerce and Treasury departments and the White House. 
Along with the potential launch of a new Section 301 investigation, USTR must soon review the tariffs which resulted from the Trump administration’s Section 301 investigation, first imposed in 2018. Under the Section 301 statute, USTR is required to terminate any tariffs put in place after four years unless “any representative of the domestic industry which benefits from such action has submitted to the Trade Representative during the last 60 days of such 4-year period a written request for the continuation of such action.” Following the receipt of such a request, USTR will be required to conduct a full review of the tariffs, including an assessment of the effects it has had on the U.S. economy and its consumers.