Washington Snapshot: Senate Approves Short-Term Debt Ceiling Fix

What You Need to Know About Public Policy This Week...


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Join the Council on November 4 for the virtual 2021 Public Policy Summit. Top government officials and national experts will convene with leaders in philanthropy to explore public policy issues affecting the sector. See our full schedule and register.


Congress IconSenate Approves Short-Term Debt Ceiling Fix

After tense negotiations, the Senate approved a measure to lift the nation’s debt ceiling by $480 billion Thursday evening, which the Treasury Department has said should cover federal borrowing until early December. The bill now heads to the House for their approval. Last week, funding for the federal government was extended until December 3. This means we are likely to see Republicans and Democrats again square off in November and December over both needing to extend government funding and raise the debt ceiling or risk significant economic consequences. In addition, Congressional leaders have said they want to pass infrastructure and reconciliation packages by the end of October.


Executive & Regulatory News IconWelcoming Afghanistan Nationals: Resettlement Needs

More than 250 organizations and leaders are coming together across party lines, faith, geography, race, and heritage in a common moment in the “whole of country” call to aid in the resettlement of new Afghanistan nationals. The Co-chairs of the Welcome.US initiative are former Presidents and First Ladies Clinton, Bush, and Obama. Council on Foundation members Open Society Foundations, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Schultz Family Foundation are among the foundations sponsoring this mobilization of the American people to welcome the Afghanistan newcomers to the United States. Funders can participate in the effort to meet the needs of these families through the Welcome Exchange that provides a registry of real-time needs and a place for donors, businesses, and organizations to offer donations to the resettlement agencies supporting the newcomers.


Executive & Regulatory News IconUSDA Announces Intent to Establish an Equity Commission, Solicits Nominations for Membership

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking member nominations for its newly-established Equity Commission Advisory Committee and Equity Commission Subcommittee on Agriculture. The Commission represents an important step toward implementing President Biden’s commitment to create a USDA Equity Commission and implement the American Rescue Plan Act provision that directs the department to address historical discrimination and disparities in the agriculture sector.

The Equity Commission will advise the Secretary of Agriculture about USDA programs, policies, systems, structures, and practices that contribute to barriers to inclusion or perpetuate racial, economic, health, and social disparities. The Subcommittee on Agriculture will be formed concurrently and will report back to the Equity Commission on equity issues related to agriculture. Other policy areas such as rural community and economic development will also be examined.

Funders with USDA policy interests or with racial equity expertise are encouraged to nominate appropriate candidates. For application requirements, consult the Federal Register Notice and send required documents to the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 6006-S, Washington, DC 20250; or electronically by email to: EquityCommission@usda.gov by October 27, 2021.


Executive & Regulatory News IconWhite House Announces 2022 Presidential Management Fellows Program

The Presidential Management Fellows Program is one of the Federal Government’s premier leadership development programs for advanced degree holders across all academic disciplines. Its purpose is to recruit and develop the next generation of federal government leaders. The program is a two-year fellowship at a federal agency with full salary, benefits, and 160+ hours of training and development that can lead to a career in government. Applications will be accepted from September 28 to October 12Funders supporting higher education scholarship programs are encouraged to share this unique career-building opportunity with students interested in public service careers.


State Policy IconHappening in the States

Exclusive from our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits.

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Spending ARPA Funds: States' Performance Mixed in Shoring Up UI Trust Funds

It is clear from the Treasury Department guidance that states can use allocations of Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to replenish their unemployment trusts funds, pay off unemployment debts, and provide relief to employers. Yet, few states have taken such actions, and employers – nonprofit and for-profit alike – may soon pay the price. So far, states have dedicated only $8 billion of the nearly $95 billion (8%) in ARPA funds available to them for this purpose, according to a new study by the Tax Foundation. The report observes that “with almost $45 billion in outstanding … and aggregate net balances of -$11.1 billion, using a substantial share of remaining Fiscal Recovery Fund balances to restore unemployment compensation trust funds to pre-pandemic levels is one of the most responsible things states can do with the money.”

Among the states that took action, LouisianaUtah, and Virginia replenished their respective unemployment compensation funds with ARPA funding over the summer. The recently enacted Michigan budget for 2022 includes dedicating $150 million of the state’s ARPA funds to shore up the state’s trust fund and thereby avert tax hikes on contributing employers. To learn more about how “lifting unemployment burdens off employers” and holding contributing and reimbursing employers harmless is a good investment in communities, see the Special Report on Strengthening State and Local Economies in Partnership with Nonprofits.