What’s Happening in Washington
In November, members returned from elections and went straight into a lame duck session that is planned to be no-so-lame. Republicans will maintain a slim majority in the House and the Democrats have gained one seat in the Senate; a lot less Republican turn out materialized than people initially expected predicting a “red wave.” During the lame duck session, lawmakers are hoping to address at the minimum NOAA and appropriations, with additional potential for tax, mental health, and other packages.
In the beginning of the month, a Congressional delegation traveled to Egypt for the COP27 summit where they spoke about environmental issues and plans for the future with other delegations. Toward the middle of the month, House speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she will no longer be seeking a leadership position in the next Congress but looks poised to serve her term after willing re-election. This came after an attack on her husband at their California home. At the end of November, Congress also passed legislation that would prevent the potential for further rail strikes.
Democrats also held caucus leadership meetings and elected Leader- designate Hakeem Jeffries, Whip-designate Katherine Clark, and Chairmandesignate Pete Aguilar. Republican leadership hangs in the balance as it remains unclear if Rep. McCarthy will get the 218 votes required to become House Speaker; further delaying committee assignments for the new congress.
At the end of November beginning of December, Congress also negotiated what would become the end of a looming rail strike which would have had far reaching consequences, specifically at this time of year.
On November 10th, OHS and DOS also announced the lists of countries that are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs in the next year.
House Ed and Labor
This month, there was a significant uptick in activity in the House Ed and Labor committee; however much of it was not of importance to NEA. It focused largely on student loan issues, college recruiting, and the WIG program. On November 17th, there was a meeting to approve new subcommittee assignments as well as a hearing on Unsafe and Untenable: Examining Workplace Protections for Warehouse Workers.
In Senate Help, there was less activity through November, with the only real activity being a hearing on children’s and early adult mental health as they transition through college. There was very little activity related specifically to labor handled by the committee through the month of November.
On November 14th, the U.S. Department of Labor announced it will be expanding its pre-apprenticeship opportunities for Job Corps students and connect them to Registered Apprenticeship programs. This will allow Job Corps centers to emphasize pre-apprenticeship programs in energy, IT and other sectors.
On November 18th, The DOL announced its Employee Benefits Security Administration has proposed updates to its Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program, including a self-correction component for employers who fail to send employee salary withholding contributions or participant loan repayments to retirement plans in a timely manner.
On November 22nd, the Department of Labor announced its rule that allows plan fiduciaries to consider climate change and other ESG actors when they select retirement investments and exercise shareholder rights, such as proxy voting.
Our work upcoming in the New Year will shift to Senate HELP members, as we have met with a large portion of members in the House. We will also prioritize committee staff and those in new leadership positions.