September 26, 2023

Washington Wire: China Competition Bill Has Become CHIPS Plus



China Competition Bill Has Become CHIPS Plus
After Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ended conference negotiations on the bipartisan China competition bill, Congressional leaders are now looking to scale down the package and focus on the Senate’s Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Act (CHIPS Act) as the centerpiece rather than trying to reconcile the House's America COMPETES Act with the Senate's U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. While the conference committee negotiating differences between the House and Senate may keep working, Senators appear close to a deal in the upper chamber in the coming days.
The package would include $52 billion in support for the semiconductor industry, plus additional provisions which lawmakers are still negotiating. While negotiations are still ongoing, the latest measure includes the CHIPS spending, $13 billion for STEM workforce development, create a new Manufacturing USA institute for workforce development, triples spending for MEPs, and several other provisions such as one creating a National Supply Chain Database to assist businesses with supplier scouting and minimizing supply chain disruptions. One Voice is continuing to advocate for workforce training provisions such as the JOBS Act and College Transparency Act to be included in the “plus” part of the package and will continue to monitor the ever-changing situation. Senators are very likely to vote on a bill this week. 



Administration Releases Unified Agenda
The Biden administration released the semi-annual preview of its regulatory priorities for the remainder of 2022. Issued by every administration and formally known as the Unified Agenda, the release offers a blueprint on how the Administration will move forward to implement its priorities within each agency.
Several top One Voice interests appear in the Unified Agenda including plans to review the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Particulate Matter with a final rule by March 2023; issue a final rule rescinding the Trump benefit-cost analysis rule for regulations under the Clean Air Act sometime this month; reconsider the NAAQS for ozone with a notice of proposed rulemaking published in April 2023; and issue a new definition for Waters of the U.S. with the final phase 1 rule published in August 2022. 
In addition, the administration is also planning to issue a new joint employer standard this month; has again delayed the Lock-Out/Tag-Out update, with a notice of proposed rulemaking pushed from September 2022 to a March 2023 release; and will issue a final rule restoring portions of the Obama-era Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses rule in December 2022. 



Electronic Recordkeeping Comments Filed
Before the release of the final rule, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) accepted comments from stakeholders on its proposal to reinstate electronic recordkeeping and reporting requirements, first proposed by President Obama, for workplace injury and illness data. 
Under current rules, which were narrowed by the Trump administration, companies with 250 or more employees as well as small employers with 20 or more employees in “designated industries”, including manufacturing, are required to annually submit OSHA Form 300A, a summary of work-related injuries and illnesses.
The new rules would require all companies in the high-hazard designated industries, including manufacturing, with 100 or more employees to electronically submit Forms 300, 301, and 300A to OSHA while removing the requirement for establishments with 250 or more employees not in a designated industry to submit Form 300A.
One Voice has repeatedly raised concerns since the initial Obama-era rule was proposed in 2013, that the information, without proper explanation to the general public, will mislead them to believe that manufacturing facilities are unsafe. One Voice is asking the administration to reconsider this misguided rule that will not improve worker safety but will hurt manufacturers’ ability to recruit employees.
One Voice is a leader in Washington opposing this new policy that does not improve workplace safety and hurts the image of manufacturing in America at a time when employers are struggling to recruit qualified workers into the industry. 



SCOTUS Restricts EPA’s GHG Regulatory Power
The U.S. Supreme Court has restricted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, ruling that the EPA cannot mandate “generation shifting” broadly fleet-wide, rather than on a plant-by-plant basis. The court found that the Obama administration exceeded its authority in 2015 under the Clean Air Act with the issuance of the Clean Power Plant rule which determined the “best system of emission reduction” for existing coal and natural gas plants included generation shifting, or increasing the use of clean natural gas and renewable energy and reducing the use of coal-fired power plants. 
The Supreme Court's June 30 decision restricted the EPA’s power under the “major questions” doctrine, finding that Congress did not give the EPA clear authorization to use Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act to set emissions limits using generation shifting method. While the ruling preserves EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases and the agency has other methods by which it can do so, the ruling based on the “major questions” doctrine opens the door to countless other rule challenges and potential court rulings. Mining groups and the power sector have already indicated that they intend to pose challenges under the same argument to EPA's proposed expansion of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). Additional challenges could also be brought against numerous rules across other agencies. 



NTMA Part of Inaugural Group of Announced Apprenticeship Ambassadors
The Department of Labor (DOL) announced the 207 officials and organizations which have been selected as the first cohort to serve as Apprenticeship Ambassadors to partner with DOL to promote registered apprenticeships and support the expansion of apprenticeships in the U.S. 
The Apprenticeship Ambassador initiative was announced by the administration in November 2021 to create a national network of stakeholders to work with DOL to support the administration’s goals of “modernizing Registered Apprenticeship; increasing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs); engaging industry in new and emerging sectors; and expanding pre-apprenticeship, youth apprenticeship and degree apprenticeships.”
The first group of Apprenticeship Ambassadors is comprised of community-based organizations, educators, employers, equity partners, industry, labor and state associations, program sponsors, and workforce partners. NTMA applied and was named one of the initial 207 ambassadors to champion the value and benefits of apprenticeships in the manufacturing industry.