Congress shutdown looms large in Washington, D.C.
Congress is putting in late nights in this year’s attempt to keep the government funded and open past the fiscal year ending Sept. 30; lawmakers so far have failed to reach agreement regarding the appropriations bills that fund federal agencies annually. Most recently, the Senate is working through a continuing resolution to fund the government to mid-November at current levels, which—if passed—would give lawmakers more time to complete the appropriations bills and provide billions of dollars for Ukraine and U.S. disaster aid. It appears the Senate will vote on this or a similar proposal Sept. 30. The House currently is considering a handful of individual funding bills and is rumored to have a plan to take up their own temporary funding bill Sept. 29 or Sept. 30 to fund the government with an 8% cut and an added piece of legislation to address border security. This situation is fluid, and things could change at any moment.
Hearing regarding Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
A subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing to review the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, a 2014 law that provides funding for workforce development programs operated at state and local levels.
During the hearing, “Strengthening WIOA: Improving Outcomes for Jobseekers, Employers and Taxpayers,” witnesses testified regarding reforms needed to improve the capabilities of WIOA programs to address growing workforce shortages employers face. NRCA submitted a letter for the hearing record, reiterating support for reforms to streamline the bureaucracy and reduce paperwork burdens; provide more flexibility within WIOA programs; and adopt other provisions to improve accessibility for roofing industry employers, especially small businesses. NRCA urged lawmakers to continue discussions aimed at crafting bipartisan legislation that provides effective solutions to workforce needs.
NRCA comments on OSHA’s proposed rule regarding personal protective equipment
NRCA joined with the Construction Industry Safety Coalition to submit comments to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing personal protective equipment in construction. The proposal revises the agency’s existing regulations to explicitly require PPE must fit employees properly. NRCA agrees PPE is an essential element of an effective health and safety program and must fit employees properly. However, our comments outline concerns about the broad scope of OSHA’s proposal and lack of clarity regarding how terms such as “properly fit” and “additional hazards” are defined. The comments provide detailed recommendations for how OSHA should clarify these and other potentially problematic aspects of the proposal to minimize burdens on employers and ensure any final rule improves workplace safety in the construction industry.
DHS announces extension and redesignation of TPS for Venezuela
The Department of Homeland Security announced the extension and redesignation of Temporary Protected Status for qualifying individuals from Venezuela, stating dangerous conditions that prevent individuals from safely returning to that country. Under federal law, a country may be designated for TPS because of armed conflict, environmental and natural disasters, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. This action provides temporary protection from removal for 18 months, as well as employment authorization, for Venezuelans who already were in the U.S. as of July 31, 2023. Under this redesignation, eligible individuals who do not already have TPS must apply with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during the initial registration, which will be specified in an upcoming Federal Register notice. Venezuelans who already have TPS must renew their status with USCIS. Individuals who obtain TPS will receive employment authorization upon completion of their application.