What you need to know now:
- Congress passes another short-term continuing resolution through April 8, cutting a total of $6 billion, including $350 million for workforce programs under DOL.
What you can do:
- Join the National Workforce Day of Action on March 24 to help prevent further cuts to critical workforce training and job placement programs.
- Sign up to meet with members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation
- Simply stop by your member’s district office to introduce yourself, and drop off materials about your program. You can do this without an appointment.
- Call Senator Scott Brown and tell his office you are disappointed that he voted to support the House cuts to workforce programs in HR1. (Washington, DC: 202-224-4543; Boston, MA: 617-565-3170)
Background from the National Skills Coalition:
The Senate voted yesterday to approve a three-week continuing resolution (CR) that will extend funding for federal government operations through April 8, replacing an existing CR that was set to expire today.
There are strong indications that this will be the last stopgap funding bill that Congress will be able to pass, increasing pressure on the White House and congressional leaders to reach a compromise on a longer-term measure for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011, which ends on September 30th.
The latest CR cuts $6 billion, including $350 million in spending reductions under the Department of Labor (DOL), achieved by terminating FY 2011 funding for the Career Pathways Innovation Fund (CPIF), and cutting $225 million from the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). The president had recommended terminating the CPIF and reducing funding for SCSEP as part of his FY 2012 budget request.
While this CR was able to pass fairly easily, it is unclear what comes next. Many fiscal conservatives have become increasingly frustrated by the pace of spending reductions under these short-term measures, with 54 House Republicans voting against the bill on Tuesday despite strong efforts to enforce party unity. Republicans are urging their leadership to focus on accelerating cuts through a long-term bill similar to the seven-month CR (H.R.1) passed last month by the House. That bill cut $61 billion in federal discretionary spending compared to current funding levels, including $3.8 billion in cuts to job training programs under DOL. The Senate rejected the measure last week, and Democratic leaders have made it clear that they are not willing to accept spending cuts at the level proposed under H.R. 1.
However, with the April 8 deadline looming and neither party eager to take the blame for a government shutdown, it is clear that the two sides will need to strike a deal shortly, and it is likely that the final package will need to include at least some additional spending reductions to attract enough votes from Republicans and fiscally conservative Democrats. Workforce development programs are still being targeted for cuts by some lawmakers, which means that workforce advocates must continue to educate their members of Congress to ensure that they understand the critical importance of federal investments in job training and education as part of our nation’s economic recovery efforts.
To support these efforts, National Skills Coalition has joined with more than twenty other national organizations to organize a “Workforce Day of Action” next Thursday, March 24. Congress will be in recess next week, and we are asking advocates to use this opportunity to arrange site visits or in-district meetings with their members of Congress and staffers to help them see the positive impact of training and education programs for workers and businesses in your community. You can register for the Workforce Day of Action and download additional materials here.