Government Shutdown Deadlines Approaching

Congress returns to Washington and needs to provide funding for the federal government either by January 19th or February 2nd depending on the agency. As part of the continuing resolution passed in November, the Congress established two deadlines for funding the federal government in order to avoid a partial shutdown. The Department of Labor is proposing a rule that would improve the national apprenticeship system and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is proposing a rule that would update safety and health protections for emergency responders. The Congressional Budget Office issued a report detailing the impact of the Raise the Wage Act that would increase the minimum wage.


Congress Faces Government Funding Deadlines - Congress returns from its holiday recess and faces two upcoming deadlines for the funding of the federal government. As part of the continuing resolution passed in November, the Congress set two deadlines for the funding of different federal agencies. By January 19th, the Congress needs to fund several agencies including Agriculture, Rural Development and the Food and Drug Administration; Energy and Water Development; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.  By February 2nd, the remaining appropriation areas need to be funded and these include Defense, Commerce, Justice, and Science; Financial Services and General Government; Homeland Security; Interior, Environment and Related Agencies; Labor, Health and Human Services and Education; the Legislative Branch; and State and Foreign Operations.


To date, the House of Representatives has passed seven of the twelve appropriations bills needed to fund the federal government and the Senate has passed three appropriations bills. The Senate and House of Representatives would need to reconcile the differences between any appropriations bills that are passed by either chamber. Failure to separately pass the remaining appropriations bills, combining the appropriations bills into a large omnibus legislative package, or passing another continuing resolution funding the federal government for either part or all of the fiscal year that began on October 1st will result in a partial government shutdown.  


National Apprenticeship System Enhancements Proposed – The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a proposed regulation revising registered apprenticeships and the National Apprenticeship System. Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su stated, “Importantly, the proposed changes will also provide strong worker protections, improved employer experiences and greater clarity about the roles of federal and state governments and their partners in the National Apprenticeship System.” Public comments will need to be submitted 60 days after the date the proposed regulation is published in the Federal Register.


The National Apprenticeship System is a federally authorized workforce development program connecting career seekers, employers, and education partners with apprenticeship resources. Registering and overseeing Registered Apprenticeship Programs are the responsibility of DOL and recognized State Apprenticeship Agencies. Additional information on the National Apprenticeship System is available here.


DOL indicated that the proposed rule would make occupational skills and training more transferable, enhance alignment with postsecondary education, and provide better data on performance. The rule, according to DOL, would promote apprenticeship pathways by expanding performance and data requirements to improve accountability, transparency, and program outcomes. The Registered Career and Technical Education Apprenticeship would be established and is designed to make it easier for high school and community college students to enroll in a Registered Apprenticeship.


CBO Estimates Raise the Wage Act Would Increase Deficit and Unemployment – The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that passage of the Raise the Wage Act (S. 2488) would increase the budget deficit by $46 billion from 2024 – 2033. CBO believes that a higher minimum wage would result in 700,000 workers losing their jobs. The increased labor cost to employers is estimated to be $151 billion over ten years.


S. 2488 would raise the federal minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 per hour in annual increments until it reached $17 per hour by July 2029. Thereafter, it would be increased annually to keep pace with inflation. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.


OSHA Proposes Update to Emergency Responders Safety & Health Protections – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is issuing a proposed rule updating the Fire Brigades Standard that was issued initially in 1980 that only applies to firefighters. According to OSHA, the proposed Emergency Response rule would provide basic workplace protections for workers who respond to emergencies as part of their regularly assigned duties and would expand the workers covered by the rule to include those who provide emergency medical service and technical search and rescue. Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker stated, “We are proposing much-needed updates that will expand protections for emergency workers and bring our standards closer to common industry procedures.”

The goal of the rule is to update safety and health protections for all workers exposed to hazards that occur during and after fires and other emergencies. OSHA indicated that the proposed rule would include major changes for protective clothing and equipment and significant improvement in safety and health practices. In the rule, OSHA states, “The proposed rule focuses on the achievement of desired results – improving emergency responder health and safety and reducing injuries and fatalities – while providing flexibility as to the precise methods used to achieve those results.” The public will have 90 days to submit comments following the date of the proposed rule being published in the Federal Register.

Neil Reichenberg is the former executive director of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources. He is an attorney, a frequent writer and speaker on public policy and human resource issues and was an adjunct faculty member at George Mason University. For questions or additional information, contact Reichenberg at