Member Briefing September 25, 2023
Bipartisan House Caucus Leaders Say ‘All Options Are on the Table’ as Shutdown Looms
In the House, where most of the fight over government spending has been taking place, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has struggled to unite House Republicans behind a deal as conservative hardliners block almost all of McCarthy’s attempts at avoiding a shutdown. As a result, some GOP lawmakers have resigned themselves to the government closing its doors, given how little time is remaining for lawmakers to meet their deadline and the ongoing turmoil that has engulfed the House.
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, did not share Gonzales’ ominous forecast in an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” but he admitted McCarthy and House Republicans are in a difficult situation given their razor-thin four seat majority in the lower chamber and the ultraconservative lawmakers who have been impeding McCarthy every step of the way. The Problem Solvers Caucus unveiled a bipartisan framework last week to avoid a shutdown. On the table for the group, led by co-chairs Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., is an archaic legislative process called a discharge petition. The move would force a bill on the floor without the need for the speaker’s approval, circumventing McCarthy.
War in Ukraine Headlines
- Ukraine and Russia: The Latest News – The Guardian
- Senior Leadership Among Those Killed in Strike on Russia's Black Sea Fleet - NBC
- Zelenskyy Seeks to Rebuild Bridges with Poles Amid Dispute Over Grain and Weapons - Politico
- ‘Empire of lies’: Russia’s Lavrov slams West in UN speech - CNN
- Ukraine Sends First Armored Vehicles Through Breach in Russian Defenses - WSJ
- Zelensky Seeks to Persuade More Skeptical West That Ukraine War Is Worth the Aid – The Hill
- Ukraine Faces a Long War. A Change of Course is Needed – The Economist
- Europe Blinks Amid Calls to Stop Backing Ukraine - Politico
- Russia’s Army Learns From Its Mistakes in Ukraine - WSJ
- Biden Agrees to $325M Military Aid Package for Ukraine - Reuters
- Interactive Map: Assessed Control of Terrain in Ukraine – Institute for the Study of War
- Map – Tracking Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine – Live Universal Awareness Map
NYS DOL Opens Portal for Employers to Connect With Migrants Who Secure Work Authorization
On September 20, Governor Kathy Hochul announced new efforts to connect asylum seekers and migrants to jobs in New York State. The New York State Department of Labor is assisting with connecting employers to asylum seekers and migrants who already have or are on the path to receiving work authorizations. In an effort to build a pipeline of job opportunities for these eligible job seekers, we have launched a new portal enabling businesses to inform the State that they would welcome individuals into their workforce once they have work authorization.
If you have opportunities and would be interested in considering newly-authorized individuals, please complete the form today and we will get you connected to a Business Services Associate to discuss your needs.
Rebound in Immigration Comes to Economy’s Aid
The inflow of foreign-born workers, which had slowed to a trickle in the years up to and including the pandemic, is now rising briskly as the U.S. catches up on a backlog of visa applications and the Biden administration accelerates work permits. That is helping ease labor shortages and wage and price pressure. While that alone doesn’t remove the risk of recession, it makes it a bit easier for the Federal Reserve to bring inflation down without a significant rise in unemployment—a so-called soft landing.
This year, average monthly growth in the foreign-born labor force is about 65,000 higher compared with 2022 on a seasonally adjusted basis, a Goldman Sachs analysis found. After plunging at the start of the pandemic, the size of the foreign-born labor force has rebounded, nearing 32 million people in August. Foreign-born workers’ share of the labor force—those working or looking for work—reached 18% in 2022, the highest level on record going back to 1996, according to the Labor Department. It has climbed further this year to an average of 18.5% through August, not adjusted for seasonal variation.
COVID Update - Free COVID Tests by Mail Are Back, Starting Today
Starting Monday, September 25, the federal government will send up to four free COVID-19 rapid tests per household to anyone who requests them. This announcement comes with a recognition that COVID hospitalizations in the U.S. peaked in January for the past three years running and that testing is an important component of minimizing the spread of the infection. Many of the pandemic programs that allowed Americans to get tested, treated and vaccinated for COVID — all for free — went away this year as the pandemic emergency designation expired.
The first batch of free rapid tests by mail went out during the Omicron wave of January 2022 — that was the apex of COVID infection seen so far. The free test offer was renewed several times, with a total of 755 million free tests distributed. The government suggests you don't throw out unused tests even if the expiration date has passed. First, check the lot numbers of any you have on hand at COVIDtests.gov — the expiration dates for many have been extended and the website will list them.
NYS COVID Update
The Governor updated COVID data for the week ending September 22nd.
- Weekly: 68
- Total Reported to CDC: 80,288
- Average Daily Patients in Hospital statewide: 1,414
- Average Daily Patients in ICU Statewide: 130
7 Day Average Cases per 100K population
- 16.5 positive cases per 100,00 population, Statewide
- 18.5 positive cases per 100,00 population, Mid-Hudson
Hochul Signals Tough Budget Ahead – Orders Agencies to Freeze Spending for Next Fiscal Year
With looming budget challenges for the upcoming fiscal year, state agencies have been directed that the upcoming spending plan will adhere to strict spending limits with budget requests not to exceed this year’s $229 billion budget. Over the past several years, the state has significantly increased year-over-year spending, which has largely been supported by federal stimulus funds. Federal funds are not expected to be delivered to the state this year, leaving lawmakers two options: raising new revenue, or cutting expenses.
According to the state Division of Budget, New York’s revenue shortfall is projected to be $36 billion over the next three years. Holding state agency budgets at current levels, instead of allowing planned increases, is a good first step toward tackling the shortfall. But the move, if fully implemented, would shave just $1 billion—or one-tenth—from the forecast gap. Agency spending is the third-largest area of state costs after Medicaid and school aid, programs that have swollen since 2020 and that now make up more than half of state spending. State Medicaid spending rose 13 percent this year alone, while school aid (adjusted for inflation) is about 25 percent above where it was a decade ago and is poised to rise more even as public school enrollment has collapsed.
Biden To Join Picket Line as U.A.W. Widens Strikes to Parts Distribution Centers
President Joe Biden will travel to Michigan to join the picket line of auto workers on strike nationwide, he said on Friday afternoon. “Tuesday, I’ll go to Michigan to join the picket line and stand in solidarity with the men and women of UAW as they fight for a fair share of the value they helped create,” Biden wrote on X, the platform previously known as Twitter. His decision to stand alongside the striking workers represents perhaps the most significant display of union solidarity ever by a sitting president.
Also Friday auto workers expanded their strike on Friday with a clear target for distress: dealers who sell and service GM and Stellantis vehicles. The UAW announced It expanded the strikes to 38 parts distribution centers for Stellantis and GM across 20 states – but not Ford, citing progress in talks. These centers are essentially warehouses that ship out parts to dealerships. That means that although these new strikes won't cause much disruption to vehicle manufacturing, they could relatively quickly start to interfere with vehicle repairs.
J.P.Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI™: Downturn in Global Manufacturing Sector Slows in August
The J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI™ improved from 48.6 in July to 49.0 in August, stabilizing a bit but contracting for the twelfth consecutive month. The declines for new orders (up from 47.6 to 48.1), output (up from 48.9 to 49.4) and exports (up from 46.4 to 47.0) slowed somewhat in August, and employment (up from 50.1 to 50.6) grew for the second straight month. Survey respondents remained positive in their outlook for future output (down from 60.8 to 59.6), albeit with some easing in confidence for the month. Delivery times (down from 51.9 to 51.2) narrowed for the seventh straight month in August despite some slowing, another sign that supply chain bottlenecks have improved.
Three of the top 10 markets for U.S.-manufactured goods experienced expanding growth in the sector in August, up from just one (Mexico) in July. Brazil eked out an ever-so-slight expansion in August for the first time since October 2022, and China rebounded, growing for the third time in the past four months. Overall, the data was mixed. Five of the top 10 markets had higher PMI readings in August than in July, four had lower and one was unchanged.
Bank of England Halts Run of Interest Rate Hikes as Economy Slows
The Bank of England halted its long run of interest rate increases on Thursday as the British economy slowed, but it said it was not taking a recent fall in inflation for granted. A day after a surprise slowing in Britain's fast pace of price growth, the BoE's Monetary Policy Committee voted by a narrow margin of 5-4 to keep Bank Rate at 5.25%. It was the first time since December 2021 that the BoE did not increase borrowing costs.
"There are increasing signs of some impact of tighter monetary policy on the labour market and on momentum in the real economy more generally," the MPC said in a statement. It cut its forecast for economic growth in the July-September period to just 0.1% from August's forecast of 0.4% and noted clear signs of weakness in the housing market.
AIA Argues Critical Infrastructure Designation Would ‘Adversely Affect’ Space Industry
In November, President Joe Biden launched a review of the nation’s critical infrastructure policy, including which sectors receive the designation and whether any updates are needed to the existing policy. As part of that review, the council is considering whether space should be added to the current list of 16 critical infrastructure sectors, Fanning wrote. Sectors designated as critical infrastructure must work with the government to ensure their services are protected and would continue working in the case of an attack. The Department of Homeland Security also maintains national critical infrastructure centers and tracks potential threats to critical sectors.
Eric Fanning, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association representing 320+ companies, sent a letter last week to NSC head Jake Sullivan arguing that designating space as critical infrastructure could actually hurt the space industry by adding the burden of additional regulations without providing any additional funding. “Critical infrastructure designations could come with additional requirements for industry operating in that sector—and likely without any additional federal funding,” Fanning wrote.
Agility Robotics to Open World's 'First Factory for Humanoid Robots' in Oregon
The creators of the bipedal robot ‘Digit’ are bringing the world's first factory for humanoid robots to Salem and say they will soon have the capacity to produce 10,000 robots a year.Agility Robotics, a Corvallis-based company, announced the opening of RoboFab last week. Construction of the 70,000-square-foot facility began last year and is set to open in late 2023. The site will be near other industrial hubs like the Amazon Fulfillment Center.
"Digit is designed from the ground up to go where people go and do useful work, safely, in spaces designed for people," company officials said. "Because so many tasks are designed around human workflows, Digit’s human-centric design enables multi-purpose utility. Initial applications include bulk material handling within warehouses and distribution centers." Customers in the company's Agility Partner Program can expect to receive the first Digit robots in 2024, according to the company. Digits is scheduled to be available in the general market in 2025.
NY Thruway Toll Increase Approved: Here's How Much More You'll Pay, When It Will Take Effect
The toll adjustments, which will be the first system-wide increase in 14 years, were announced by the New York Thruway Authority on Monday, Sept. 18, and follow a 10-month-long public process. The increases will affect those with New York E-ZPass tags, non-New York E-ZPass tags, and those who pay tolls by mail, Thruway Authority officials said. They will go into effect on Monday, Jan. 1. For each category of toll customers, the increases include:
For New York E-ZPass customers: The base rate will increase by five percent on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024, and by another five percent in January 2027. For non-New York E-ZPass customers: The toll rate will increase from 15 percent above the New York E-ZPass rate to a 75 percent differential on January 1, 2024. For Tolls by Mail customers: The toll rate will increase from 30 percent above the New York E-ZPass rate to a 75 percent differential on January 1, 2024. The plan also calls for fixed toll rate increases of $0.50 each year at the new Tappan Zee Bridge until 2027, at which point the base NY E-ZPass rate for passenger vehicles will be $7.75.
Education Secretary Cardona: America’s Higher Education System is ‘Broken’
America’s education landscape can feel like a battlefield with wars being waged over reading, cultural issues, school funding, and college admission processes. But at a breakfast with reporters hosted by The Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona emphasized the need for a level playing field as students from all walks of life move from early childhood programs through college or apprenticeship training. Calling out the latter, he says the nation has a “broken higher education system.”
Runaway costs, he says, have saddled too many people with student loan debt or prevented them from stepping foot into a college or university altogether. “We’re banking on the fact that if we open doors to higher education, not only are our families going to be better, but our country is going to be better,” Dr. Cardona says. As a new academic year gets underway – with stubborn pandemic-era challenges and an election year around the corner – here’s more of what Dr. Cardona had to say during the Monitor Breakfast. Excerpts have been lightly edited for clarity.
Inside Apple’s Spectacular Failure to Build a Key Part for Its New iPhones
The 2018 marching orders from Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook to design and build a modem chip—a part that connects iPhones to wireless carriers—led to the hiring of thousands of engineers. The goal was to sever Apple’s grudging dependence on Qualcomm, a longtime chip supplier that dominates the modem market. Apple had planned to have its modem chip ready to use in the new iPhone models. But tests late last year found the chip was too slow and prone to overheating. Its circuit board was so big it would take up half an iPhone, making it unusable.
Engineering teams working on Apple’s modem chip have been slowed by technical challenges, poor communication and managers split over the wisdom of trying to design the chips rather than buy them, these people said. Teams were siloed in separate groups across the U.S. and abroad without a global leader. Some managers discouraged the airing of bad news from engineers about delays or setbacks, leading to unrealistic goals and blown deadlines.