January 20, 2021

Washington Wire: Ask Congress to Support the JOBS Act


Action Alert: Ask Congress to Support the JOBS Act  

We need your help to ensure that Washington supports critical job training and technical education policies and promotes careers in manufacturing. The “Jumpstart our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act of 2019,” H.R. 3497, was recently introduced in the House of Representatives by Cedric Richmond (D-LA-02), Andy Levin (D-MI-09), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH-16), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA-03), Steven Horsford (D-NV-04), and John Katko (R-NY-24).
This vital legislation will make Pell Grants more accessible for students seeking job training and opportunities and help fill the skills gap faced by manufacturing employers. Currently, Pell Grants only cover 600 hour programs while this legislation will reduce the threshold to an eight-week 150 hour program in an effort to attract qualifiable candidates into manufacturing careers.
Job recruitment, training, and placement, as well as advanced technical education, are critical to the future of manufacturing in America. The JOBS Act is an essential step in eliminating barriers to affordable postsecondary short-term skills and job training programs.
We need you to contact your Representatives today and ask them to cosponsor the JOBS Act. Click here to contact your member of Congress today and make your voice heard!



Labor Department Proposes Standards for Recognizing Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs
On June 25, the Labor Department introduced a proposed rule under the National Apprenticeship Act (NAA) to establish a process for recognizing Standards Recognition Entities (SREs), which will in turn recognize Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs). The Department also announced the awardees of 23 grants totaling $183.8 million, creating partnerships between education institutions, firms, and trade associations. The grant awardees included the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS), of which PMA and NTMA are founding members, in the states of Arizona, Missouri, and Ohio. Also of importance, NTMA joined in a successful partnership that was awarded a grant of its own in Arizona.
The proposed rule describes what entities may become SREs; outlines the responsibilities and requirements for SREs; and sets out how the Administrator of the Office of Apprenticeship will interact with SREs. The proposed rule also describes how Industry Programs would operate in parallel with the existing registered apprenticeship system. The Department considers its industry-led, market-driven approach provides essential flexibility to scale the apprenticeship model and address America’s skills gap. One Voice is working with the Labor Department on expanding access to apprenticeships and the IRAPs. The comment period for the proposed rule closes on August 26, 2019.



Commerce Launches New 232 Steel, Aluminum Tariff Exclusion Portal
The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security has launched a new online portal for companies who import steel or aluminum subject to tariffs to submit exclusion requests, objections to exclusion requests, rebuttals, and surrebuttals for the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs, replacing the process through regulations.gov.
Regulations.gov was initially used for the exclusion process as it was the best option the Administration had to quickly implement the process, however the site was not easily adaptable to the 232 submission process and users have found that using the site was extremely complicated and difficult to navigate with nearly 120,000 filings. The 232 Exclusions Portal was created to streamline the process by including standard web-based forms for submission as well as easily viewing all documents (exclusion request, objection, rebuttal, and surrebuttal documents) in one location, allowing parties to track requests throughout the entire process.
The Department will not be migrating all requests that have already been filed into the new system, however, so there will be a transition period. When the portal went live on June 13, the Department stopped accepting requests filed through regulations.gov but the site is still being used for the processing of all exclusion requests initiated through June 12, 2019. Objections, rebuttals, and surrebuttals must always be filed on the system where the exclusion request was submitted, whether in www.regulations.gov or in the 232 Exclusions Portal.
The Department has published a user guide for the 232 Exclusion Portal which includes step-by-step instructions on how to file and can be found here. Additionally, the Department will be accepting comments through August 9, 2019, on the 232 Exclusions Portal and whether the portal addresses concerns with the use of regulations.gov for the 232 exclusion process.



EPA Finalizes Repeal of Clean Power Plan by Issuing Affordable Clean Energy Rule
At the end of June, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its final version of the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule and its repeal of the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The CPP would have likely increased the price of electricity by 6-20% annually by the EPA’s admission but pegged as up to 30% by industry analysts. The ACE rule will repeal the CPP on grounds that it exceeds the statutory authority provided under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. While the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the CPP’s implementation in 2016, by repealing the CPP, EPA estimates it will save up to $33 billion in avoided compliance costs in 2030.
Rather than imposing restrictions and mandates on existing power plants that are largely out of their control, the ACE rule will focus instead on modifications to existing facilities “within the fence line” of the utility. Additionally, the ACE Rule requires states to set their own performance standards for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing coal-fired power plants and identifies heat rate improvement (HRI) as the best system of emission reduction (BSER) for reducing GHG emissions. The ACE rule goes into effect on September 6, 2019 but is facing legal challenges from environmental and public health groups.