HR-Related Proposals Included in President’s FY19 Budget Proposal

Chatrane Birbal By Chatrane Birbal February 16, 2018
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On February 12, the Trump administration released its proposed fiscal year 2019 federal budget, which contains a number of workplace-related proposals. The president's budget is a request to Congress to fund the federal government for the upcoming fiscal year (FY), set to begin on October 1, 2018. Most important, however, is that the budget submittal represents an outline of the White House's policy priorities for the coming year, funding of which will ultimately be decided by the Congress.

Contained in the budget submittal are a number of labor and employment proposals, including an initiative to expand apprenticeship programs, one that supports the reintegration of the formerly incarcerated into the workplace and another that establishes a paid parental leave benefit program within the unemployment insurance (UI) program. With regard to health care, the budget includes a proposal to fund cost-sharing subsidies, a provision to support an ACA repeal-and-replace proposal and additional funding to support association health plans (AHPs). In addition, the budget submittal calls for funding for a nationwide, mandatory E-Verify program, along with a funding request for additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, including for additional worksite investigators. Below is a snapshot of the key workplace-related requests under the president's budget submittal:

Labor

  • Reintegration of the Formerly Incarcerated—Supports activities authorized under the Second Chance Act to help individuals exiting prison make a successful transition to community life and long-term employment through mentoring, job training and other services.
  • Apprenticeships—Supports activities that would expand apprenticeship programs at the state and local levels through a range of options, such as state-specific outreach strategies, partnerships, economic development strategies, and expanded access to apprenticeship opportunities for under-represented populations through pre-apprenticeships and career pathways.
  • Paid Parental Leave—Establishes a federal-state paid parental leave benefit program within the unemployment insurance (UI) program that would begin in 2021. The program will provide six weeks of benefits for mothers, fathers and adoptive parents. The benefit is provided to help families recover from childbirth and to bond with their new children. In addition to the UI proposal, Ivanka Trump is working with a few Republican senators reportedly to create a voluntary program that would allow employees to receive Social Security contributions to use as pay when on leave from work for situations including the birth of a child. The employee using the leave would be delayed in receiving those Social Security contributions when they retire. Details of this proposal have not been made public. 
Health Care
  • Affordable Care Act Subsidies—Provides two-year funding for cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments. The continued uncertainty surrounding CSR payments will have a negative impact on millions of people in the individual market, which could shift significant costs to employers and other private-sector payers as well as the federal government.
  • ACA "repeal-replace"—Endorses a plan by U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Dean Heller (R-NV) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) that would effectively re-allocate the ACA's federal spending (insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion funds) with a block grant given annually to states to help individuals pay for health care. The proposal also includes a provision to reduce the employer mandate penalty to zero, but not the requirement that insurance carriers offer coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions. Read SHRM's analysis of the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal as introduced in September 2017.
  • Association Health Plans—Increases funding for the Employee Benefits Security Administration, an agency of the Department of Labor, to support association health plans. The Employee Benefits Security Administration issued proposed regulations for an expansion of association health plans in January. The proposed rule would allow small employers and sole proprietors to band together and form an association health plan.
Immigration
  • Employment Verification—Includes funding for a nationwide mandate for all employers to use E-Verify, the government's electronic employment eligibility verification system. The budget proposal also includes funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, including for additional worksite investigators. Enforcement would be funded by a 35 percent increase in penalties for knowingly employing undocumented workers.
  • Labor Certification Process—Includes an idea to establish a "workload-based funding source" for the labor certification process at the Department of Labor by charging employers that want to hire temporary foreign workers fees when they seek labor certification. Read more on the president's immigration budget proposal. 

The FY19 budget policy proposal will require action by Congress and, in the upcoming months, congressional committees with jurisdiction over budgetary issues will hold a series of hearings on the president's budget proposal.

As Congress considers the budget, SHRM will continue to advocate in support of proposals that will strengthen and support the workplace. 

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