On The Money — Housing plan hangs by a thread
Democratic dreams of spending billions of dollars to expand affordable housing may fall with the rest of President Biden’s economic plan.
Today, we’ll also look at a failed vote to unionize an Amazon sorting facility, a sunny outlook for the U.S. job market and tough decisions on Ukraine aid.
But first, Meghan Markle is the latest victim of Netflix’s cutbacks.
Housing push at risk as Build Back Better withers
The path forward for the critical housing investments Democrats sought to protect in the Build Back Better Act (BBB) is getting murky, as uncertainty hangs over the party’s chances of passing its partisan package amid resistance from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
While there have been rumblings among Democrats of another run at a reconciliation package that can fetch the support of key moderate holdouts like Manchin or Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), those privy to discussions have sought to make clear that they are just that: talks.
- Emerging from a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) last week, Manchin said any plan for a reconciliation package should be “about getting inflation under control, paying down this debt, getting a handle on what’s going on.” But when asked about where previously proposed housing investments would fit into such a vehicle, Manchin told The Hill that “there’s no formal talks.”
- Advocates warn the stakes are too high for Democrats not to take significant action on housing through reconciliation. Not doing so would ignore a crisis they say is putting serious strain on American families as the gap widens between housing costs and wages amid supply shortages.
The background: Democrats garnered a wave of headlines last year after unveiling proposals for $300 billion in historic affordable housing investments seen by advocates as potentially transformative in combating the housing crisis, including boosting funding for rental assistance and public housing construction.
- But as intraparty disagreements arose over the size of the plan, an essential component of President Biden’s agenda, the price tag for housing investments began to fall sharply, just as in other areas of the far-reaching package. Funding set aside for housing was cut by almost half in the House-passed version of the climate and social spending plan last year.
- And it remains to be seen whether the same scope of housing investments will be in any other effort the party makes this year at a package passed via budget reconciliation, a complicated procedure that will allow Democrats to bypass a GOP filibuster in the evenly split Senate.
Aris has more here.
SECOND VOTE FAILS
Amazon workers at Staten Island facility vote against unionization
Workers at an Amazon facility in Staten Island, N.Y., have voted against unionizing, the first loss for a nascent campaign to organize the e-commerce giant’s American locations.
Of the roughly 1,600 workers at the LDJ5 sorting facility, 618 voted against being represented by the Amazon Labor Union. Three hundred and eighty voted to unionize, with two ballots determined to be void.
“We’re glad that our team at LDJ5 were able to have their voices heard,” said Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel. “We look forward to continuing to work directly together as we strive to make every day better for our employees.”
- The vote comes after workers at another Staten Island Amazon facility voted to unionize last month in a historic moment for the labor movement.
- The Amazon Labor Union was heavily invested in the first warehouse vote, giving organizers a tight window to secure support at the neighboring facility.
- The union signaled it would challenge the results of the LDJ5 election, like Amazon has done for JFK8.
The Hill’s Chris Mills Rodrigo has more here.
The $33 billion question
Senate Democrats are nearing a decision point on how to handle the administration’s request for tens of billions in new Ukraine assistance.
- The Biden administration formally unveiled the $33 billion request last week, kicking the issue to Congress, where Democrats will need to decide whether to attach it to stalled coronavirus aid.
- With the House out for the week, the focus will settle on Senate Democrats, where Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) hasn’t yet tipped his hand.
Both the White House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) back linking both the coronavirus aid and the new round of Ukraine-related assistance, arguing that they are both priorities that need to quickly pass Congress.
But linking Ukraine assistance and coronavirus aid could slow down its path through the Senate, where Republicans are wary of backing a bill with both.
Jordain Carney explains here.
JOBS, JOBS, JOBS
US labor market will recapture all jobs lost during pandemic by end of August, according to a new analysis
The Fitch Ratings report, first obtained by CNN on Monday, said it is “likely that all jobs lost at the onset of the pandemic will be fully recovered by Q3 2022,” which starts in July.
The report noted, however, that the recovery has not been equal across states. All states except Hawaii and Louisiana have recovered at least 70 percent of the jobs lost at the peak of the pandemic.
- Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Georgia are among 13 states that are already back to the job levels seen before the pandemic.
- But the Fitch report noted that labor shortages will continue to plague employers, particularly in Nebraska, Utah and Montana, where the job openings to unemployed ratio was three times where it stood pre-pandemic.
The Hill’s Monique Beals has more here.
Good to Know
The Department of Energy on Monday announced a $3.16 billion grant program to aid domestic manufacturing of electric vehicle batteries.
The funding, provided through the bipartisan infrastructure law, comes amid research projecting increased demand for electric vehicles and lithium ion batteries. Research from the Federal Consortium for Advanced Batteries indicates the lithium battery market will grow by a factor of 5 to 10 within the next 10 years.
Here’s what else we have our eye on:
- A watchdog group on Monday alleged that the largest single donation to a super PAC aligned with former President Trump was made illegally.
- AP: “Germany and India signed a series of bilateral agreements Monday focused on sustainable development that will see the South Asian nation receive $10.5 billion in aid by 2030 to boost the use of clean energy.”
- A bipartisan group of senators is calling on President Biden to conclude an investigation into solar panel imports as quickly as possible.
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.
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