The Biden Administration unveiled its proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget to Congress on March 28. As we mentioned last week, the document is lengthy, but ABMA will be analyzing this proposal to highlight areas that address our policy priorities like workforce development and supply chain.
One item that caught our attention on preliminary review is a substantial proposed increase in funding for the Department of Labor (DOL). The Biden Administration is proposing a boost for DOL of 18 percent, or $2.2 billion to advance its mission. In total, this would provide DOL with $14.6 billion in discretionary funds.
On the workforce development front, the proposal would direct $100 million for helping community colleges work with employers and the federal government to devise workforce development programs. His budget also calls for spending another $100 million on a new “Sectoral Employment through Career Training for Occupational Readiness” program, which would train workers for jobs in growing industries.
In addition, registered apprenticeships are provided a considerable increase. The Biden budget would provide a $68 million boost from fiscal 2022 for registered apprenticeships, for a total of $303 million. That would include a doubling of spending on DOL’s Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations grants, which provide pre-apprenticeship opportunities to boost women’s participation in registered apprenticeships.
Workforce Development Funds in China Competition Bill
Before House passage of the America COMPETES Act, an amendment was adopted to include reauthorization of the National Apprenticeship Act, which includes a considerable funding provision for supporting workplace apprenticeship programs. The language seeks to build new partnerships among educational institutions and industry to launch new apprenticeship tracks from classrooms and training centers into full-time jobs.
This bill is headed to conference committee to reconcile differences with the Senate-passed China competition bill known as USICA, or the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act.
Russian Wood Product Ban Legislation
The Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR), has drafted legislation to ban imports of wood from Russia and Belarus while Russia continues its assault on Ukraine. The bill, titled the No Timber from Tyrants Act, would attempt to make up for the reduction in Russian wood imports by promoting more production of lumber off of U.S. federal forest lands.
According to Westerman’s team, last year, the United States imported over half-a-billion dollars’ worth of wood products from Russia ($459 million) and Belarus ($52 million). Russia is the world’s 4th largest exporter of wood and wood exports are a $12 billion industry for the country. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, global forest certification systems have begun classifying wood products from Russia and Belarus as ‘conflict lumber.’
Westerman’s bill would attempt to replace this conflict timber with increased responsible harvesting on federal lands in the amount necessary to make up for lost imports. Westerman’s office is looking for organizations to support the bill in advance of its introduction in about 2 weeks.