July 28, 2021

Washington Wire: Final Spending Bill for Fiscal Year 2020 Includes Increases to Workforce Training


Final Spending Bill for Fiscal Year 2020 Includes Increases to Workforce Training  

On December 20, President Trump signed a spending bill for the 2020 fiscal year which included several increases to workforce training programs supported by One Voice. The new law includes $2.8 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Grants, an increase of $30 million when compared to the 2019 funding level. Registered apprenticeships also saw an increase in funding of $15 million when compared to last year, totaling $175 million, while also raising the maximum Pell Grant award to $6,345. Lawmakers also provided more resources for Manufacturing Extension Partnership Programs (MEPs) by adding $16 million to last year’s total.
These all marked significant victories for the One Voice lobbying program in 2019 and the NTMA and PMA thank their members who supported these efforts by sending letters to their Senators and Representatives calling on them to increase resources for training programs and raise awareness of manufacturing careers available.



President Signs Bill Granting Federal Workers 12 Weeks Paid Leave
The FY2020 spending bill that increased funding for training, MEPs, and apprenticeships also provides funding for 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal workers coinciding with the birth, adoption or foster. Taking effect in October 2020, this provision marks a significant change in federal workplace policy. In many similar situations, policymakers impose changes on government contractors and federal employees before ultimately expanding the same regulation to private employers.



 Trump Administration Proposing Changes to the National Environmental Policy Act
Sources in Washington indicate that this week the White House Council on Environmental Quality could publish a proposed rule changing how Federal agencies conduct environmental impact reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Under NEPA, agencies review any significant long-term effects an infrastructure project could have on the environment.
According to sources, the new rule will no longer require agencies to take into account the “cumulative” effects of new infrastructure projects on the environment. Courts have interpreted that this requirement instructs agencies to consider how an infrastructure project may contribute to climate change, causing considerable delays in construction. Furthermore, the proposed rule will limit the type of projects necessitating an environmental impact review. Once published in the federal register, the proposed rule will have a 60-day comment period, with a final rule arriving by the end of the year.



EPA Announces New Rule Limiting Heavy-Duty Truck Emissions
On Monday, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced a proposed rulemaking establishing new emission standards decreasing nitrogen oxide (NOx) and other pollutants from heavy-duty trucks. Known as the Cleaner Trucks Initiative (CTI), the proposed rule updates standards put into place in 2001. Under that standard, trucks had to cut NOx emissions by 95 percent within 10 years and resulted in a decrease of national NOx emissions by 40 percent. While the proposed rule will limit NOx pollution more than the current standard, sources see this move as an attempt to get out ahead of states like California from setting a far stricter standard.



Senate Finance Committee Passes New NAFTA
On January 7, 2020, the Senate Finance Committee approved the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on a strong bipartisan 25-3 vote. The USMCA, also known as the new NAFTA, passed the U.S. House of Representatives just before Christmas. The full Senate now has fifteen legislative session days to put the bill up for a full vote at which point, many expect it to pass and head to President Trump likely by the end of the month for his signature. The agreement will take effect once all three countries ratify it. So far only Mexico has ratified the agreement and sources expect Canada to ratify it later this month as they closely watch the process in the U.S.