The information that the CBO provided can be interpreted in two, equally important, equally legitimate, and completely compatible ways. First, it would be perfectly accurate to look at today’s projections and be encouraged by how much progress has been made toward a more secure fiscal future, especially compared to the situation just a few years ago. But it would also be perfectly reasonable to look at today’s projections and see an unsustainable path that, without action, will lead to a fiscal danger zone that the country has never before experienced. These two interpretations are not mutually exclusive, and in fact, both are important to understanding the choices facing the nation.
Jul 14 2014
This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. Signed into law on July 12, 1974, the Congressional Budget Act set parameters for the Congressional budget process. The law created the Senate and House Budget Committees and the Congressional Budget Office, which have provided citizens with more information to understand how the federal budget process works and how it will affect them.
Highlighting the law’s 40th anniversary, Chairman Murray released the following statement:
“On the 40th anniversary of the Congressional Budget Act, it’s important to remember how decisions we make about the budget in Congress affect the American people. Federal budgets are much more than just numbers on a page—they have real impacts on people and communities.
“The Congressional Budget Act has been valuable in establishing a process in Congress to look closely at what we are investing in and why, as we work to ensure the federal budget reflects the values and priorities that the American people care about most. ”
Jul 14 2014
Having access to contraceptives empowers women to plan their families and pursue their educational and career goals on their terms. A 2011 Guttmacher Institute study showed that contraception access is a critical component of economic empowerment for women. The study found that 77 percent of women said that access allowed them to take better care of themselves and their families, while 64 percent said that it helped them to get or keep their jobs and careers. Having this freedom is a major reason why women now make up half of the nation’s workforce and 40 percent of women are the sole or lead income earners for their families.
Jul 02 2014
On average, DOT says states should prepare for a 28 percent cut in federal funds for construction projects. Summer is the height of the construction season, but this shortfall could mean states will have to put the brakes on many projects, which could trigger a construction shutdown. Anticipating this crisis, many states have already taken steps to delay highway construction projects that would ease congestion and make critical repairs to bridges.
Yesterday , the Senate overwhelming passed, with a vote of 95-3, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, a bipartisan, bicameral bill authored by Senator Murray and seven of her colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, from the House and the Senate.
The bill, which now heads to the House of Representatives for approval, would modernize and improve existing federal workforce development programs, help workers attain skills for 21st century jobs, and foster a modern workforce that evolving American businesses rely on to compete. Over 100 labor, business, and workforce development leaders and advocates have endorsed the legislation.
The legislation represents a compromise between the SKILLS Act (H.R. 803), which passed the House of Representatives in March of 2013, and the Workforce Investment Act of 2013 (S. 1356), which passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee with a bipartisan vote of 18-3 in July of 2013.
A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here.
The statement of managers, including a section-by-section summary of the legislation, can be found here.
A summary of key improvements WIOA makes to current workforce development programs can be found here.
The text of the bipartisan, bicameral agreement can be found here.
Read more of what Senator Murray has been working on recently to expand opportunity for working women and their families.
One reason for weakness in the labor market can be attributed to the lack of growth in the construction sector, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Prior to the Great Recession, the hours worked at jobs in the construction sector were seeing an upward trend, and the industry was booming. However, during the recession, the industry was hit particularly hard, and hours worked fell far below pre-recession levels. The report, released last week, highlighted that while many sectors have recovered, the construction sector has not. The report concluded that, “If there is some slack in the labor market, it is likely attributable to the performance of the construction sector and related activities.”
The Department of Transportation (DOT) projects the Highway Trust Fund to reach critically low levels this summer. If that happens, DOT would delay reimbursements to states, which pay for construction projects across the country. If states aren’t able to enter into new construction contracts because of a Highway Trust Fund crisis, as many as 700,000 jobs could be at risk, according to DOT estimates. Senator Murray has called on Congress to avoid a crisis that would jeopardize thousands of important transportation projects, and have a serious impact on construction jobs. In a recent speech on the Senate floor, Murray said, “Allowing the Highway Trust Fund to reach critically low levels would be another blow to an industry that’s already seen more than its fair share of job loss and uncertainty.”
Read more about how the Highway Trust Fund works here.