By Annie Regan
With the midterm elections now behind us, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate return to Washington for a lame duck session, entering the twilight zone of the legislative year with a list of must-pass items to be addressed before the conclusion of the 117th Congress.
Two fiscal issues are likely to be a major focus of the last weeks of this Congress: getting an omnibus spending bill (a proposed law that covers a number of diverse or unrelated topics) done and deciding whether or not to deal with the debt limit.
The current measure funding discretionary federal programs expires on December 16th, so avoiding a partial government shutdown requires action before that deadline. Prior to the passage of the current stopgap measure in September, factions of House and Senate Republicans had lobbied to run a temporary spending bill into January 2023 in possible anticipation of a new majority with different spending priorities
Democrats will be especially eager to complete work on a full omnibus package for the balance of the fiscal year. Doing so will require both parties actually completing negotiations on a package and ensuring it has the support of at least 10 Republicans in the Senate necessary to end a filibuster, a political procedure in which one or more members of a legislative body prolong debate on proposed legislation so as to delay or entirely prevent decision.
Here are some of ReImagine Appalachia’s priority legislation to be included in the omnibus bill:
In 2021, Congress enacted the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which included an unprecedented and transformative $11.3 billion for cleaning up abandoned coal mines. But unfortunately, the new law does not allow states to set money aside for long-term acid mine drainage treatment facilities.
There is a simple, bipartisan bill on the table that would let states and tribes clean up polluted streams–the STREAM Act!
Urge your Senator to vote for this bill to act on acid mine drainage!
Despite the decrease in coal production across the country, coal miners are experiencing higher rates of black lung disease due to the type of mining that is occurring today. Miners are promised health care and a living stipend if they are disabled by black lung disease, but the benefits are difficult to access.
Pennsylvania Congressman Matt Cartwright and Senator Bob Casey have introduced the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act to make this difficult process easier and to increase the level of support for miners and their families–tying benefit levels to inflation. Tell your representatives to support the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act!
The RECOMPETE Pilot Program could provide distressed local communities with flexible multi-year grants to invest in a variety of local economic development needs designed to increase employment rates. Grants can be used for infrastructure investments, brownfield redevelopment, workforce development, small business assistance, resources to connect residents to opportunities, among other investments.
This will was authorized in the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 (P.L. 117-167), so now we are asking Congress to fund this new pilot program at $100 million dollars for 2023 – please join us by using this easy action tool today!
The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) is a lifeline for workers displaced from their jobs by unfair trade policies, offering trade-impacted workers a variety of supports including income support, a health coverage tax credit, and training, education, and job search assistance. Established in 1962, the TAA program has served more than 5 million workers in the United States.
Federal funding for this critical program lapsed on June 30. Until Congress reauthorizes the program, the U.S. Department of Labor cannot consider petitions for TAA assistance, meaning thousands of workers do not have access to the program. It is estimated that more than 40,000 workers have missed out on TAA benefits since the program lapsed, a number that will continue to grow if Congress does not reauthorize TAA.
Enhancements that can make a big difference include:
- Streamlining the application process;
- Establishing a tax credit for child care;
- Providing coverage for workers who lose their jobs due to import restrictions of U.S.-made goods; and
- Extending TAA to public service workers.