December 9, 2022

Washington Wire: White House, Congressional Democrats Make One Last Attempt at a COVID Bill


White House, Congressional Democrats Make One Last Attempt at a COVID Bill  

On September 29, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi presented plans to Democratic lawmakers to push ahead with a vote on the caucus’ $2.2 trillion COVID relief bill. Speaker Pelosi huddled with Democratic leadership after completing discussions with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and expects a GOP offer today, September 30. Sources expect the White House to counteroffer with $1.5 trillion in aid.
Sources indicate Speaker Pelosi is preparing her members to vote on their latest offer as a standalone partisan measure and then leave Washington for the campaign in the event she and Secretary Mnuchin fail to reach an agreement. At the same time, she is continuing negotiations in earnest though the Senate is unlikely to consider any new COVID relief bill without the strong support of President Trump as that chamber is consumed with confirming a replacement for deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The latest COVID relief bill proposed by Democrats is significantly less than the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act passed by the House this Spring. The new bill provides $436 billion in emergency aid for state and local governments, as well as an additional round of $1,200 stimulus checks for most American workers. In addition, it will bring back the $600 expanded unemployment payments through January 2021. Finally, the bill provides $25 billion to passenger airlines to halt layoffs, a provision backed by President Trump and Republicans, and $120 billion in aid to the restaurant industry. Members of Congress in both parties and the White House agree on the need for additional Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and One Voice is lobbying policymakers to include the priorities of NTMA and PMA members. If you have not done so already, you can send a letter to your Senators and Representative asking them to take action now.



House Education and Labor Committee Passes Overhaul to National Apprenticeship Act
On September 24, the House Education and Labor Committee completed its markup of the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020 (H.R. 8294). The bill proposes to modify and update the National Apprenticeship Act for the first time since its passage in 1937, expanding apprenticeships in three comprehensive ways.
First, the bill seeks to codify and simplify standards for registered, youth, and pre-apprenticeship programs, simplifying the process for both apprentices and employers to participate in apprenticeship programs. In addition, it codifies the Office of Apprenticeship within the Employment and Training Administration of the Labor Department and directs the office to convene a committee of industry leaders, labor organizations, educators, and others to expand apprenticeships into new occupations and business areas. Finally, the bill authorizes more than $3.5 billion in the national apprenticeship system over the next five years and develop approximately one million new apprenticeships.
The bill passed the committee on a party line vote of 26 – 16. Committee Republicans voted against the bill because it focused only on registered apprenticeship programs. The bill does not address Industry Recognized-Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs), which One Voice supports and many Democrats and unions oppose. IRAPs allows industry groups such as the National Institute for Metalworking Skills to develop programs and certify apprentices. The bill now moves to the House floor for a likely vote prior to the end of the year, however, the intent is to not pass the bill into law this year without Republican support but to pave the way for action next year by the full Congress.



Department of Commerce Announces Enhanced Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis System
The U.S. Department of Commerce recently announced a final rule modernizing the Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis (SIMA) system which goes into effect on October 13. Under the final rule, the SIMA system will:
  • Require steel import license applicants to identify the country where the steel used in the manufacture of the imported product was melted and poured, as well as the imported product’s country of origin.
  • Clarify how specific import data collected from the licenses will be collected and reported on the public SIMA monitor.
  • Increase the reach of steel products subject to the SIMA licensing requirement to include all steel products subject to Section 232 tariffs.
  • Eliminate the regulatory provision regarding the SIMA system, extending the SIMA system indefinitely.
  • Codify the present low-value license requirement for particular steel entries up to $5,000.
While applying to imports from all countries, the updates to the SIMA system comply with the May 17, 2019 joint understandings between the U.S. and Canada, and the U.S. and Mexico, which provided that when monitoring for steel import surges, the U.S. may treat steel products melted and poured in North America separately from products melted and poured in other foreign countries. The Commerce Department will hold a series of webinars for users to become familiar with the revised SIMA system. Click Here for specific dates and times of the demonstrations.



Labor Department Revises Paid Leave Rule Under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act
On September 11, in response to a U.S. District Court decision invalidating portions of regulations implemented under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the Labor Department announced revisions to executing provisions for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave, seeking to clarify workers’ rights and employers’ responsibilities for the invalidated portions of the regulations. Revisions of regulations made under the FFCRA do the following:
  • Reassert and give further explanation for the condition that an employee may take FFCRA leave only if work would otherwise exist for that person.
  • Reassert and give further explanation for the obligation that an employee has his or her employer’s approval to take FFCRA leave intermittently.
  • Modify the term “healthcare provider” to include only employees who meet the definition of that term under the FFCRA regulations or who are employed to offer diagnostic, preventative, treatment, or other services that are included with and necessary to the patient care provision if it would adversely impact patient care.
  • Clarify that employees must disclose mandatory documentation supporting their need for FFCRA leave as soon as practicable to their employers.
  • Fix a discrepancy concerning when employees may be obligated to offer notice of a need to take expanded family and medical leave to their employers (if school is closed that day to the child for remote learning it does not constitute intermittent leave requiring employer approval).
The revisions to the rule came into effect September 16.



California Introduces Plan to Only Allow the Sale of Zero-Emission Vehicles by 2035
On September 23rd, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an Executive Order allowing only the sale of zero-emission passenger cars and trucks by the year 2035. Under the order, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will need to develop regulations to reach this mandate. Furthermore, CARB must create regulations mandating that medium- and heavy-duty trucks reach 100 percent zero emissions by 2045. The order does not prevent Californians from owning gasoline-powered cars or selling used gasoline-powered cars. Several experts have stated California cannot implement this Executive Order without the approval of the EPA. While California can normally apply more stringent auto emissions standards under the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Trump administration revoked permission for California to enact stricter standards in 2019, making the effect of this executive order in limbo until after the presidential election.