February 4, 2023

Washington Wire: Perkins Funding Bill for FY22 Passes in the House



U.S. Senate Passes Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, Moves to U.S. House
On Tuesday, August 10, the U.S. Senate passed by a vote of 69-30 a bipartisan infrastructure bill spending roughly $1.2 trillion over eight years. One Voice worked with lawmakers urging them to pass a bipartisan measure that does not increase taxes on American businesses. The 2,700-page bill provides $110 billion for roads and bridges, $66 billion for passenger and freight rail, $39 billion for public transit, $55 billion for water infrastructure, $17 billion for ports and waterways, and $65 billion for broadband among other provisions.
The measure now moves to the U.S. House for consideration, which is not scheduled to return to Washington, D.C. for votes until September 20, though sources indicate Speaker Pelosi may call members back for a rare August session. The final timing and passage of the infrastructure bill remain unclear with many progressives and transportation experts voicing concern about too little spending spread across too many priorities. In addition, Speaker Pelosi has made clear she will not move the bipartisan infrastructure bill without a much larger bill supported only by Democrats that provides funding for social programs. 
One Voice is working with coalition partners and allies on Capitol Hill to prevent tax increases to pay for those programs. Sources on Capitol Hill indicate Democrats are targeting a number of tax provisions used by One Voice members that could result in not only increased tax rates but also eliminating key credits and deductions. The target list includes Section 199a, step-up basis for capital gains and the estate tax, carried interest, 163(j), among many others on which One Voice is actively lobbying. 



The U.S. and EU Strive to Resolve Tariff Dispute by November 1
The U.S. and EU have committed to trying to resolve the dispute over the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs by November 1, 2021. In June, the EU temporarily suspended an increase in retaliatory duties as the U.S. and the EU agreed to enter into discussions to find solutions to address steel and aluminum overcapacity while working to find a way to lift the tariffs. 
Both the U.S. and the EU have indicated that some type of deal that goes beyond simply lifting the tariffs could be on the table. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the U.S. would not "simply remove" the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum while European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis has said that they were exploring other possible solutions in addition to a suspension of the tariffs. 
Lobbying to lift the tariffs on aluminum and steel remains a top priority for PMA and NTMA, which led more than thirty other associations in June by calling on President Biden to terminate the tariffs. One Voice will continue to push to have the tariffs removed as soon as possible.



Perkins Funding Bill for FY22 Passes in the House 
Before adjourning for their August recess, the House of Representatives passed a Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 appropriations package which includes the Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education funding bill. The FY22 bill funds key workforce development and training programs, including the Perkins Basic State Grant. 
The legislation provides $1.38 billion in funds for the Perkins Basic State Grant, an increase of $50 million over the FY21 level and $30 million above Biden’s budget request. In addition, the bill provides $3.1 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act State Grants, $250 million more than the level from the previous year. Finally, the bill provides $285 million for Registered Apprenticeships, an increase of $100 million.
The bill also has $100 million for competitive grants for “local educational agencies to carry out evidence-based middle and high school career and technical education innovation programs,” fully funding Biden’s request.
The bill now heads to the Senate, which has yet to move on many of their federal funding appropriations bills as they have largely been focused on passing the infrastructure package. One Voice will continue updating its members and lobbying for the passage of this legislation. Washington should support job training initiatives and programs that support in-demand jobs such as those in the manufacturing industry.



SBA Opens PPP Direct Forgiveness Portal 
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has launched its own online forgiveness platform to accept applications from borrowers directly. The Paycheck Protection Program Direct Forgiveness Portal, which launched on August 4, allows businesses with loans of $150,000 or less to apply for forgiveness directly through the SBA.
The Interim Final Rule establishing the direct borrower forgiveness process also introduces the COVID Revenue Reduction Score, used to document the revenue reduction required for Second Draw PPP Loans. Borrowers of loans of less than $150,000 were allowed to self-certify that they had a reduction in revenue of more than 25% and were not required to submit documentation with the initial loan application as long as that documentation was submitted before forgiveness. 
The COVID Revenue Reduction Score takes numerous factors into account such as industry, geography, and business size to formulate a score. If the score meets the revenue reduction requirements, the lender will not have to submit any additional documentation. 



EPA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Move to Revise Waters of U.S. Rule 
The EPA has announced that they will soon begin working to create a “durable definition” of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS). The EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will use a two-step approach to develop the new rule. 
First, the administration will restore the pre-Obama WOTUS rule and then work to create a new revised definition of WOTUS. The most recent regulatory definition of WOTUS was adopted in 2020 following years of lawsuits challenging the regulatory definition adopted by the Obama administration in 2015.
Trump’s Navigable Waters Rule, which was adopted in 2020, narrowed the definition of WOTUS to include only six categories of water. This was a departure from the WOTUS rule adopted by the Obama Administration which broadened the jurisdiction to consider industrial ditches as “tributaries,” leading to costly maintenance activities, and expensive and time-consuming dredge and fill permits as well as stormwater retention ponds, fire ponds, and on-site impoundments, leading to point source discharge and other permit requirements. 
Like Obama’s broad WOTUS rule, the Navigable Waters Rule also faced numerous legal challenges, and the EPA is now asking each court to remand the rule back to the EPA and allow it to remain in effect while EPA conducts its new rulemaking process.
As part of that rule-making process, the EPA is holding a series of public meetings and community roundtables, as well as accepting public comments throughout this fall and winter.