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Senate acts fast to dodge default
Thanks to hours of dealmaking with frustrated senators and some time-management prowess on the Senate floor, Chuck Schumer made sure Congress pulled the US economy from the brink before it went broke.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
The Senate late Thursday night passed a bill by a vote of 63-36 to suspend the debt limit and avoid a dreaded weekend session with three full days to spare before the US was set to default on its debt.
The bill now goes to President Joe Biden’s desk who with the stroke of a pen will sign the bill into law and finally put months of economic uncertainty behind us.
Biden said the bill — a result of an agreement between the president and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to cap federal funding for the next two years and remove the specter of default through 2025 — represented a big win despite both sides compromising in policy areas that aggravated progressive and conservative flanks of their respective parties.
“Our work is far from finished,” Biden added. “But this agreement is a critical step forward and a reminder of what’s possible when we act in the best interests of our country.”
Biden will address the nation this evening to speak about the bill.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer also expressed relief that the looming crisis was finally averted.
“Default was the giant sword hanging over America’s head,” he said after the vote. “But because of the good work of President Biden, as well as Democrats in the House and Democrats in the Senate, we are not defaulting.”
Schumer, along with House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries weren’t at the negotiating table when the Biden-McCarthy deal was brokered. But the top Senate Democrat played a pivotal role in the hours leading up to the final vote to assuage senators who either wanted amendment votes and commitments on additional military funding and a thorough appropriations process in exchange for an agreement to fast-track final passage of the bill.
Schumer and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in a joint statement said they would bring the 12 annual federal funding bills to the floor once they’re advanced out of committee and that the deal in no way hampers the Senate’s ability to boost defense spending for Ukraine aid and other global threats.
Once the amendments were hotlined, Schumer assumed the role of timekeeper, urging stir-crazy lawmakers to stay in the Senate chamber between votes to preserve precious minutes. And as the clock ticked towards 11 p.m., Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana saved even more time by allowing his amendment, the final one of 11, to fail by voice vote so senators could get to the main attraction.
“To recap: Avoiding a default is important,” Conor O’Brien of Politico tweeted. “The Senate not working on a Friday is even more important.”
Four Democrats — John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats — joined 31 Republicans in voting against the bill. 17 Republicans, led by McConnell, voted with 46 Democrats in favor.
Meanwhile, just a day earlier, Jeffries rounded up a surplus of House Democrats to help McCarthy pass the procedural vote that led to the lower chamber approving the bill by a 314-117 margin.
In addition to suspending the debt limit and capping federal funding for two years, the bill also reinvests billions of dollars from the IRS to offset deep cuts to social programs, which will keep domestic funding virtually flat next year. FWIW, the IRS cuts will result cost $40 billion and increase the deficit by $19 billion, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office requested by Senate Budget Chairman Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. (Congressional Republicans defended tying a debt-limit increase to funding cuts because they said it would reduce the federal deficit and national debt.)
Republicans were able to recoup billions in unspent COVID-19 funding in the bill as well while funding for the military and veterans’ programs will increase by three percent, which met President Biden’s request in his budget proposal.
Additionally, it burdens childless people under age 54 with new work requirements that limit the number of months they can receive SNAP benefits within a defined period, up from 49 years old. Veterans, unhoused people, and people transitioning out of foster care are protected from the work requirements, which are set to sunset in 2030. These provisions are what drew opposition from most Democrats who voted against the bill.
The bill also protects the provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act and codifies the president’s student loan debt relief program, two top House GOP targets in the negotiations. The deal also includes reforms to expedite the review of permits for energy projects and approved the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a priority for Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia that environmental justice activists say will worsen the climate crisis.
For more: “What happened to the big, bad Freedom Caucus? They got rolled, that’s what.” by Michael Tomasky … “'Shrink the room': How Biden and McCarthy struck a debt-limit deal and staved off a catastrophe” by Seung Min Kim, Stephen Grovers, and Farnoush Amiri … “Biden notches win on debt ceiling deal, but lets others boast” by Peter Baker
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! It’s Friday, June 2, 2023, National Leave the Office Early Day, which I’ll definitely be observing once I press send on this newsletter. You’re reading Supercreator Daily, your morning guide to the politicians, power brokers, and policies shaping the American creator experience.
Senate repeals Biden’s student debt program
Ahead of the vote on the budget bill, the Senate voted 52-46 to overturn President Biden’s plan to overturn to cancel at least $10,000 in student loan debt for millions of borrowers.
The White House strongly opposed the decision and said President Biden will veto it.
The Supreme Court is expected to decide this month if the program is constitutional.
The budget agreement Congress passed this week codifies an end to the payment pause, which the administration already planned to end on September 1.
Sen. Manchin, who joined all Republicans plus Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona in favor of the repeal, said there are already more than 50 existing repayment and cancelation programs and the US can’t afford the $400 billion cost of Biden’s plan.
“This Biden proposal undermines these programs and forces hard-working taxpayers who already paid off their loans or did not go to college to shoulder the cost,” Manchin said in a statement released on Wednesday after a procedural vote on the resolution. “Instead, we should be focusing on bipartisan student debt reforms that reduce the cost of higher education and help all Americans.”
The White House called the disapproval resolution legislative overreach that would weaken America’s middle class if it were signed into law because nearly 90 percent of the relief in Biden’s program would go to Americans earning less than $75,000 per year — and no relief would go to any individual or household in the top-five percent of incomes.
“Americans should be able to have a little more breathing room as they recover from the economic strains associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” the administration said last month.
The disapproval resolution falls under a 1996 law called the Congressional Review Act that empowers Congress to overrule executive branch regulations by a simple majority vote, which means it isn’t subject to the 60-vote threshold required to break a filibuster. And even though Democrats control the Senate, the CRA requires the resolution to receive a floor vote.
The White House argues that the authority the Education Department based the plan on has been used by multiple administrations over the last two decades and has never been subject to the CRA review. Administration officials suggest the fact that Biden’s plan is for political purposes.
The House last week passed the resolution in a 218-203 vote. All Republicans and two Democrats voted — Reps. Jared Golden and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez voted for the resolution.
For more: “Here’s how to prepare to start paying back your student loans when the freeze ends” by Cora Lewis and Adriana Morga … “Debt ceiling deal: Opposition grows to ending student loan relief” by Annie Nova
Harris announces new equity-focused home-appraisal actions
The White House on Thursday proposed a rule that would set new standards for the use of algorithms used to assess the value of homes to mark 102 years since the Tulsa race massacre and the start of National Homeownership Month.
The action was one of several Vice President Kamala Harris announced during a press call with news outlets including Supercreator to address decades of appraisal bias that has disempowered Black and brown families from building the generational wealth their white counterparts enjoy.
A senior administration official told Supercreator the White House sees racial equity in housing as an issue it can work on with Congress across both sides of the aisle.
“I know that there are several different bills being contemplated right now on the Hill,” the official said. “It really looks at a whole suite of issues from governance to the appraiser profession and reducing barriers to entry and I expect they’ll have some news on that probably sometime this year.”
The official added the House Financial Services and Senate Banking Committees have already held separate hearings on appraisal bias to explore solutions to barriers to entry into the profession for people of color and other underrepresented groups and shortages of appraisers in rural and other tribal areas.
Several cities and states have launched initiatives to increase awareness so consumers know what to do if and when they receive an evaluation that they think is misvaluation or tainted by bias and issues around appraiser diversity. At the local level, there’s an entire initiative through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the National Urban League, and several banks to invest in expanding the pipeline to the profession.
“So there’s been a lot of activity, especially in the last two years,” the official said. “But as you know, there’s no substitute for federal action, which is why we’re taking the steps that we’re doing today.”
In addition to the anti-algorithmic bias standards, the White House said it’s taking action to promote industry-wide consistency for reconsiderations of value that provide consumers to challenge potentially inaccurate appraisal valuations when obtaining or refinancing a mortgage and increasing consumer knowledge about the option to pursue an ROV.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency also announced that it will update its dashboard with new appraisal data to increase transparency and leverage federal data to inform policy and improve enforcement against appraisal bias.
“Home appraisals are meant to be fair and objective estimates of the market value of a property. However, far too often, they are not,” Harris said. “Taken together, these are important steps toward a more just and equitable home valuation system. And our administration will continue to do this work to ensure all people are treated fairly.”
The steps come on the two-year anniversary of the launch of the Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity task force, a first-of-its-kind interagency effort Harris leads to root out bias in the home appraisal process.
Earlier this year, Harris and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge announced that the Federal Housing Administration will reduce its annual mortgage insurance premium by 0.30 percentage points for most new borrowers, an action the administration estimates will save approximately 850,000 low and middle-income homebuyers/homeowners an average of $800 per year.
For more: “To limit racial bias, home appraisers are pushing changes” by Jennifer Ludden … “How racial bias in appraisals affects the devaluation of homes in majority-Black neighborhoods” by Jonathan Rothwell and Andre M. Perry … “‘The economic consequences are real’: Officials push for deeper scrutiny of racial bias in home-appraisal process” by Aarthi Swaminathan
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TODAY IN POLITICS
All times Eastern
5:50 a.m. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden arrived in Cairo, Egypt. She was welcomed by First Lady Entissar Amer of Egypt.
6 a.m. Dr. Biden and Amer had a brief greet before departing the airport.
6:45 a.m. The first lady joined President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt and Amer for a greet at the presidential palace. Following the greet, she will join Amer for lunch.
8:45 a.m. Dr. Biden will visit a local technical education school in Cairo.
11 a.m. The first lady will visit Al-Azhar Mosque and host a conversation with young Egyptians in Cairo.
1:45 p.m. President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing with Vice President Harris.
3:40 p.m. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will participate in the Washington Mystics’ Wear Orange Youth Basketball Clinic to mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day and Wear Orange Weekend. Moms Demand Action Founder Shannon Watts will also attend. Clinic participants will include DC Metro area youth and survivors of gun violence from the TraRon Center and 100 Fathers.
3:50 p.m. Vice President Harris will travel to Springfield, Virginia to speak about gun violence prevention to mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will join her and speak.
7 p.m. President Biden will speak about the budget agreement Congress passed to raise the debt limit.
8:10 p.m. The president will travel to Marine Barracks Washington to attend the Friday Evening Parade at 8:45 p.m.
10:45 p.m. President Biden gets back to the White House.
The House and Senate are out.
THEY DID THAT
Democratic Reps. Jasmine Crockett of Texas and Suzanna Bonamici of Oregon and Republican Reps. Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Jennifer González-Colon introduced legislation to increase address the public defender shortage.
Angela Alsobrooks, candidate for US Senate from Maryland, notched a major endorsement from Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer — the former number-two House Democrat. Hoyer is also the dean of the Maryland congressional delegation and the most senior House Democrat.
Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland shared that he’s still thinking about whether or not to run for the Senate seat as well.
Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana kicked off Pride Month will a call to pass the Equality Act, which would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Democratic Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota underwent successful surgery to repair multiple fractures in her left ankle.
President Biden tripped over a sandbag on stage and fell down after congratulating the Class of 2023 Air Force Academy cadets. (He’s okay.) Former President Donald Trump responded.
President Biden talked to former President Barack Obama after Biden’s commencement speech at the Air Force Academy about the votes in Congress this week among other topics.
First Lady Dr. Jill Biden repeated the charming Reem Acra dress she wore to a state dinner last month for the crown prince of Jordan’s wedding.
Florida Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis lost his temper in New Hampshire when a journalist asked him why he hasn’t taken questions from voters in several days.
Los Angeles Rams Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris saved a child who was drowning in a Las Vegas pool thanks to automatic external defibrillator training.
Multi-hyphenate Issa Rae got to see the Barbie President she inspired.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
“Talk of racism proves thorny for GOP candidates of color” by Jonathan Wiseman and Trip Gabriel
“America’s approach to addiction has gone off the rails” by Sam Quinones
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“Will Google’s AI plans destroy the media?” by John Herman
“‘My Elderly Parents Refuse to Make a Will’” by Charlotte Cowles
“Dupes don’t even need to look like the real thing anymore” by Chloe Anello
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