Legislative Updates

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COVID-19 Emergency Aid Package:

  On Sunday night and again this afternoon, Senate Democrats blocked a procedural motion to continue to the bill that would carry the Senate's Phase Three CARES Act legislation. Attached is a current summary of the emergency relief bill and a letter that ABC sent Senators in support of the CARES Act. The bill would provide approximately $350 billion in small business interruption loans and contains tax provisions to delay payments and assist businesses through this crisis. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who negotiated the Phase Two deal with Speaker Pelosi last week, continues to work with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on a deal and Senate Majority Leader has committed to remaining in session until a deal is passed. Speaker Pelosi has also proposed her own, 1000+ page bill to address the crisis, though many see it is an unserious proposal and are hoping to modify the Senate legislation for passage. Many Democrats have publicly stated support for including provisions in the bill that wou ...

Senate Energy Legislation:

 

The Senate is set to take up energy legislation to spur carbon capture, grid modernization and security, while increasing U.S. international competitiveness and investing in clean energy technologies. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said it represents the best chance in more than a decade to modernize U.S. energy policy and includes more than 50 energy-related bills that were reported out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee through 2019.

After running into some issues last week and a push for amendments to the bipartisan energy bill, on Thursday, Murkowski threw her support behind 18 provisions from senators across the ideological spectrum, saying she would package them as a modified substitute amendment.

However, Democrats are expected to push for 2 additional amendments on energy efficiency and reducing the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

ABC will continue to monitor the progress of this legislation.

IRAP Rule:

  As many of you have likely seen, the final Department of Labor industry-recognized apprenticeship rule is set to be released tomorrow and a recent report on the rule noted that the construction industry was carved out of the new IRAP rule and included an advance copy of the final rule (please note, we don’t know if this is the official version). ABC has not commented on the report but will release the following comment after the final rule is officially released: “The Department of Labor has failed to recognize that the numerous pathways to a successful career in construction include industry-recognized apprenticeship programs,” said Greg Sizemore, ABC vice president of health, safety, environment and workforce development. “All U.S. workers should have the opportunity to participate in DOL’s new industry programs, particularly as federal registered apprenticeship programs supply only a small fraction of the construction industry’s workforce. Recognition of alternativ ...

National Apprenticeship Act Reauthorization:

 

On March 4, the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment held a hearing entitled “Reauthorizing the National Apprenticeship Act: Strengthening and Growing Apprenticeships for the 21st Century.” The National Apprenticeship Act, also known as the Fitzgerald Act, has not been reauthorized since its enactment in 1937 and the Subcommittee released a discussion draft bill to reauthorize the act ahead of Wednesday’s hearing. ABC is looking to submit comments on the discussion draft this week.

Also, during the hearing, Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson highlighted the important work being done by the ABC Metro Washington Chapter in providing pre-apprenticeship opportunities incarcerated individuals to prepare them to become productive contributors to their communities.

Coronavirus Legislation:

  Last week, the president signed into law an $8.3 billion emergency funding bill to address the coronavirus outbreak. The measure includes $2.2 billion for health agencies to prepare for and prevent the spread of the virus in the United States, as well as more than $3 billion for vaccine research. The spending plan also allows for $1 billion in loan subsidies to be made available to help small businesses impacted by financial losses as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. This funding could enable the Small Business Administration to provide an estimated $7 billion in loans to these entities and provides $20 million to the SBA to administer these loans. Democratic leadership in the House and Senate are also calling for additional legislation to help the economy including paid sick leave, enhanced unemployment insurance, expanding SNAP and WIC, increase medical response systems, reimbursement for coronavirus health costs, protections for frontline workers and widespread testing.  ABC is continu ...

Election Update:

  After Super Tuesday’s elections, Vice President Joe Biden is leading Democrats with 664 delegates to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ 573. All other major candidates for the Democratic nomination have dropped out of the race, with many of them endorsing Biden for president, including Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NY). Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also dropped out of the race but has so far held off on endorsing either Biden or Sanders ahead of Tuesday’s primaries that include Michigan (125 delegates), Washington (89), Missouri (68), Mississippi (36), Idaho (20), and North Dakota (14). Biden’s success in winning 10 of 14 states on Super Tuesday and the high profile endorsements from his former rivals has made him the front runner in the race. He looks to gain more ground on Tuesday, especially in Michigan, which has the largest number of delegates and ...

Grassroots Awards:

 

Reminder that the 2019 Grassroots Award application is live and available for completion by chapters. The form can be accessed here (abc.org) or here (National Connections). The deadline for completing the application is Friday, March 6th. If you have any questions, please reach out to Patrick McCarty (mccarty@abc.org).

Election Update – The Nevada Caucuses:

  Although the final results have not been completed, Sen. Bernie Sanders has won the Nevada Causes with 40.7% of the aligned vote.  Vice President Biden ran second recording 19.7%, as compared to Mayor Buttigieg’s 17.1%.    An interesting anecdote coming out of the Nevada caucuses was Sen. Sanders’ good performance among Nevada’s powerful Culinary Workers Union on Saturday. Sen. Sanders “dominated” other candidates among culinary workers despite the Union’s leaders’ high profile battle with and “non-endorsement” of Sen. Sanders over his proposed “Medicare for All” plan, which union leaders argue would completely dismantle union-negotiated healthcare plans.  With a decisive victory, Sen. Sanders has emerged as the frontrunner for the nomination, with several others failing to keep pace with his delegate count.   The next state to vote is South Carolina on Saturday, Feb 29th. The Palmetto state is the final state ...

Transportation/Infrastructure Update:

 

Continuing the push of a bipartisan $287 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill, the Senate will hold a hearing series on the reauthorization of surface transportation. This week, the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “Surface Transportation Reauthorization: Public Transportation Stakeholders’ Perspectives.”

Meanwhile, the House will also hold hearings this week in coordination with House Democrats’ $760 billion framework with no determined funding source. Those hearings include: The House Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Infrastructure Hearing: Moving America's Infrastructure Forward, and a House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Hearing: "Proposals for a Water Resources Development Act of 2020.

Presidential Budget Request Hearings:

 

As is the annual tradition, the House and Senate will host the several agency heads in their committee rooms over the next couple weeks to further explain their agency’s plan and priorities in presidential budget request. This week, Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Secretary Betsy DeVos of the Department of Education and, and newly appointed SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza, will be among the administration officials testifying in the respective committees on the FY2021 budget request.