SRN - Political News

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A pandemic-related U.S. government ban on residential evictions expired at midnight on Saturday, putting millions of American renters at risk of being forced from their homes.

The expiration was a blow to President Joe Biden, who on Thursday made a last-ditch request to Congress to extend the moratorium, citing the raging Delta variant.

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives adjourned without reviewing the tenant protections after a Republican congressman blocked a bid to extend it by unanimous consent until Oct. 18. Democratic leaders said they lacked sufficient support to put the proposal to a formal vote.

The U.S. Senate held a rare Saturday session but did not address the eviction ban. The White House had made clear it would not unilaterally extend the protections, arguing it does not have legal authority to do so following a Supreme Court ruling in June.

More than 15 million people in 6.5 million U.S. households are currently behind on rental payments, according to a study by the Aspen Institute and the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, collectively owing more than $20 billion to landlords.

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren on Saturday said that in “every state in this country, families are sitting around their kitchen table right now, trying to figure out how to survive a devastating, disruptive and unnecessary eviction.”

Democratic Representative Cori Bush and others spent Friday night outside the U.S. Capitol https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-lawmaker-spends-night-outside-capitol-protest-return-evictions-2021-07-31 to call attention to the issue.

She asked how parents could go to work and take care of children if they are evicted. “We cannot put people on the street in a deadly global pandemic,” Bush said on Saturday.

Landlord groups opposed the moratorium, and some landlords have struggled to keep up with mortgage, tax and insurance payments on properties without rental income.

An eviction moratorium has largely been in place under various measures since late March 2020. The ban by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) went into effect in September 2020 to combat the spread of COVID-19 and prevent homelessness during the pandemic. It has been extended multiple times, most recently through Saturday.

CDC said in June it would not issue further extensions. A CDC spokeswoman confirmed that the moratorium had expired but declined to comment further.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in explaining the need to extend the eviction ban, noted that out of $46.5 billion in rental relief previously approved by Congress, “only $3 billion has been distributed to renters.”

Late Saturday, Pelosi said lawmakers were demanding “the $46.5 billion provided by Congress be distributed expeditiously to renters and landlords.”

Some Democratic lawmakers early Sunday were rallying outside the Capitol to call for the ban’s reinstatement.

Some states like California and New York have chosen to extend eviction moratoriums beyond July 31. Federal agencies that finance rental housing on Friday urged owners of those properties to take advantage of assistance programs and avoid evicting tenants.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Raju Gopalakrishnan)


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By David Morgan and David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Senate on Sunday worked to finalize legislation to forge ahead with a sweeping $1 trillion spending plan for roads, rail lines, high-speed internet and other infrastructure, with some senators predicting final passage later this week.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the text was “being finalized imminently,” and the Senate could soon start voting on all relevant amendments, finishing the bill “in a matter of days.”

The massive infrastructure package is one of President Joe Biden’s top legislative priorities and would be the largest investment in U.S. roads, bridges, ports, and transit in decades.

It includes $550 billion in new spending on top of $450 billion in previously approved funds and would provide money to replace lead water pipes and build a network of electric vehicle charging stations.

Senator Jon Tester, a key Democratic negotiator on the legislation, told reporters that one potential holdup is a provision over wages. Democrats want to include a decades-old law that would require contractors to pay prevailing wages – typically higher levels set by unions – on projects funded by the legislation.

Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, told CNN that she believes at least 10 Republicans will support the measure, enabling it to clear a 60-vote procedural hurdle.

“My hope is that we’ll finish the bill by the end of the week,” Collins said, adding that the measure is “good for America.”

Final text – including detailed provisions to pay for it – will determine whether a sizeable bipartisan majority in the closely divided Senate can hold up. Senators so far have supported a shell version of the legislation in procedural votes, including a 66-28 margin on Friday that included 16 Republicans.

White House economic adviser Brian Deese talked up the bill before its final provisions were revealed as “badly needed investments in our economy” that could help ease supply bottlenecks that were contributing to inflation.

“It will make it easier to get goods and services flowing. It’ll actually lower prices over the long term,” Deese said on “Fox News Sunday.”

BIGGER SPENDING TRAIN

But Democrats have paired the “hard” infrastructure bill with a much-larger $3.5 trillion “reconciliation” budget bill that would boost spending on education, child care, climate change and other priorities of the party.

Schumer said in Senate floor remarks that immediately after passage of the infrastructure bill, he will proceed with a budget resolution that would allow “reconciliation” rules to be used for those investments – enabling Democrats to pass them with only a simple majority without Republican support.

Democrats want to offset the social spending with tax increases on corporations and wealthy Americans earning more than $400,000 a year – measures that Republicans oppose.

Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat whose support is pivotal to the party’s spending plans, said that while the infrastructure bill should win strong support, he could not guarantee passage of the reconciliation bill.

He said both plans need to be fully paid for to avoid a dangerous build-up of debt.

“Let’s see if the pay-fors are for real,” he said, adding that while he could support some tax increases, he was concerned about making the U.S. economy uncompetitive.

Some Democratic progressives, particularly in the House of Representatives, have also suggested the $1 trillion package is inadequate, and the Senate could impose changes that potentially complicate its chances of becoming law.

The Democrats’ majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives are razor-thin, requiring the party to stick together if it wants to achieve its legislative goals.

(Reporting by David Morgan and Richard Cowan; Writing by David Lawder; Editing by Ross Colvin and Andrea Ricci)


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By David Morgan and David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate reconvened on Sunday to finalize legislative text and forge ahead with a sweeping $1 trillion spending plan for roads, rail lines, high-speed internet and other infrastructure, with some senators predicting final passage later this week.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the text was “being finalized imminently,” and the Senate could soon start voting on all relevant amendments, finishing the bill “in a matter of days.”

The massive infrastructure package is one of President Joe Biden’s top legislative priorities and would be the largest investment in U.S. roads, bridges, ports, and transit in decades.

It includes $550 billion in new spending on top of $450 billion in previously approved funds and would provide money to replace lead water pipes and build a network of electric vehicle charging stations.

Senator Jon Tester, a key Democratic negotiator on the legislation, told reporters that one potential holdup is a provision over wages. Democrats want to include a decades-old law that would require contractors to pay prevailing wages, typically higher levels set by unions, on projects funded by the legislation.

Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, told CNN that she believes at least 10 Republicans will support the measure, enabling it to clear a 60-vote procedural hurdle.

“My hope is that we’ll finish the bill by the end of the week,” Collins said, adding that the measure is “good for America.”

Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that another procedural vote was possible on Sunday and he was expecting the bill to be passed by Thursday. He said the text of the bill was almost complete.

Final text – including detailed provisions to pay for it – will determine whether a sizeable bipartisan majority in the closely divided Senate can hold up. Senators so far have supported a shell version of the legislation in procedural votes, including a 66-28 margin on Friday that included 16 Republicans.

But Democrats have paired the “hard” infrastructure bill with a much-larger $3.5 trillion “reconciliation” budget bill that would boost spending on education, child care, climate change and other priorities of the party.

Democrats also want to offset the spending with tax increases on corporations and wealthy Americans earning more than $400,000 a year – measures that Republicans oppose.

Democrats may be able to pass the larger bill on their own under special budget rules that allow only a simple majority

Manchin said that while the infrastructure bill should win strong support, he could not guarantee passage of the ‘reconciliation’ bill.

It needed to be fully paid for to avoid a dangerous build-up of debt, he said.

“Let’s see if the pay-fors are for real,” he said, adding that while he could support some tax increases, he was concerned about making the U.S. economy uncompetitive.

Some Democratic progressives, particularly in the House of Representatives, have also suggested the $1 trillion package is inadequate, and the Senate could impose changes that potentially complicate its chances of becoming law.

The Democrats’ majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives are razor-thin, requiring the party to stick together if it wants to achieve its legislative goals.

(Reporting by David Morgan and Richard Cowan; Writing by David Lawder; Editing by Ross Colvin and Andrea Ricci)


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