Public Policy Roundup: Mandatory Vaccines for Federal Employees, the $1 Trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, and More

Eric House - Aug 16 2021
Published in: Public Policy
Here are the important updates to public policy that impact workforce mobility.

The biggest news around the world is undoubtedly rising COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant, which has caused U.S. President Joe Biden to mandate vaccinations for federal employees. Many employers and small businesses have followed suit, furthering the question around mandatory vaccination certificates. In other major news, the U.S. Senate approved a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill, a major piece of spending that faces uncertainty in the House. Read on for more key public policy updates that impact workforce mobility.

US Senate Passes Bipartisan $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill

On 10 August, the U.S. Senate voted 69-30 to approve a $1 trillion infrastructure bill. It now goes to the House of Representatives for approval, where it may face an uphill battle to approval from both sides but for different reasons. Nevertheless, it has been touted as a historic bill that could positively impact Americans and the U.S. infrastructure for years to come. The majority of funding in the bill ($110 billion) will go towards roads and bridges, including major spending on electric grid and power infrastructure ($73 billion), passenger and freight rail ($66 billion), broadband investments ($65 billion), water systems ($55 billion), and more for public transit, airports, and road safety.

US President Joe Biden Mandates Vaccinations for All Federal Employees

With the Delta variant of COVID-19 and rising cases causing concern around the world, U.S. President Joe Biden announced in late July new measures to get more Americans vaccinated. This included mandating that all federal employees and on-site contractors show proof of vaccination or face strict protocols including frequent COVID-19 testing. Unvaccinated employees also "will be required to wear a mask on the job no matter their geographic location, physically distance from all other employees and visitors, comply with a weekly or twice weekly screening testing requirement, and be subject to restrictions on official travel.”

USCIS Conducts Second Random Selection from Previously Submitted FY 2022 H-1B Cap Registrations

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would begin its second random selection of previously submitted FY 2022 H-1B cap registrations. USCIS conducted its initial selection in March 2021, after which it was determined that additional registrations would need to be randomly selected to reach the FY 2022 numerical allocations. The petition filing period based on registrations selected began on 2 August and will continue through 3 November.

Ur Jaddou Confirmed as New Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

On 30 July, U.S. President Biden picked Ur Jaddou to head the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Democrat-led Senate voted 47-34 to approve her nomination. She will become the USCIS’ first female director, after serving as chief counsel for USCIS during the Obama Administration, as well as director of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Watch. While her nomination was opposed by a majority of Senate Republicans, she was supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who in a letter endorsed her knowledge and experience as critical to reducing significant visa backlogs.

How This Impacts Mobility

Despite its uncertainty in the House, the major $1 trillion infrastructure bill has major implications for mobility as it aims to improve roads, airports, waterways, and other methods of transportation that are critical to workforce mobility. Biden’s mandatory vaccination requirement (or COVID-19 testing) for federal employees immediately impacts government workers regardless of their location, and it remains to be seen what challenges this can pose for said employees. The second round of random H-1B selections is a positive move towards allocation of additional H-1B visas, while the confirmation of Ur Jaddou as head of USCIS signals a markedly different direction from the Trump-era USCIS.

Did you miss our public policy webinar?

On 5 August, we held “What’s on Congress’s Agenda for the Fall – and Will It Affect You?”, a webinar that answered such key questions as: Will federal policymakers be able to reach agreement on top issues of concern to the global mobility and relocation industry – and what might the implications be on U.S. businesses? Will the business tax rate change? What is the current state of all-things real estate and mortgage? What other public policy surprises could be on the way? Worldwide ERC Public Policy Leaders Jay Hershman, Jen Stein, Jeff Margolis, and moderator Rebecca Peters gave valuable insight into where public policy is going and how you can help shape it. In case you missed it, access the audio or download the presentation here.

Registration for the 2021 Global Workforce Symposium is Now Open!

Global Workforce Symposium 202One is about bringing the industry together as one and it’s time to celebrate all that global mobility professionals do to keep the world moving. We’re excited to welcome the entire industry under one roof for the first time in two years! Don’t miss this year's largest global mobility meeting. Just as we've done for many years, we're bringing together verticals across the mobility and relocation industry for an event that will feature all of the parts you've come to love over the years plus a few new surprises! Register now for GWS: 202One, taking place 19-22 October in Chicago, Illinois here!