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On The Money: Trump wants more COVID-19 relief aid, Mnuchin says | Trump officials issue sweeping eviction ban | Unemployed struggle to cover basic expenses

On The Money: Trump wants more COVID-19 relief aid, Mnuchin says | Trump officials issue sweeping eviction ban | Unemployed struggle to cover basic expenses
© Greg Nash

Happy Tuesday and welcome back to On The Money, where we are now soliciting fantasy football draft advice. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL—Mnuchin: Trump wants more COVID-19 relief aid: Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinPelosi dismisses talk of White House compromise on stimulus: They 'keep moving the goal post' Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day Hillicon Valley: Treasury sanctions Russian group accused of targeting critical facilities | Appeals court rules Uber, Lyft must comply with labor laws | Biden: Countries that target US elections will 'pay a price' MORE told House lawmakers on Tuesday that he’s ready to restart negotiations with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBrown says Biden's first moves as president should be COVID relief, voting rights Sunday shows - Spotlight shifts to positive tests among Pence aides Pelosi dismisses talk of White House compromise on stimulus: They 'keep moving the goal post' MORE (D-Calif.) on a massive coronavirus relief package, emphasizing that both he and President TrumpDonald John TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' MORE support more emergency aid for workers, schools, small businesses and testing.

“Let me say I very much agree with you and those other experts that more fiscal response is needed. The president and I want to move forward with more fiscal response,” Mnuchin testified before a special House subcommittee investigating the federal response to the pandemic.

“I'm prepared to sit down with the Speaker at any time to negotiate,” he added.

The context: Talks between Pelosi and White House officials have been on hold ever since the two sides walked away from the negotiating table on Aug. 7, more than three weeks ago. 

The takeaway: Mnuchin, along with several Democratic lawmakers, focused on areas of broad agreement. The Treasury secretary repeatedly insisted that he’s willing to come to the table with Democratic leaders to craft a bill based on shared priorities without a topline figure already in mind. He also was less optimistic about the path of the economy than some of his fellow Republicans and administration officials, warning of the dire threats facing certain industries.

The Hill’s Scott Wong has more here.

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LEADING THE DAY

Trump administration issues sweeping eviction ban: The Trump administration issued an order Tuesday banning landlords from evicting tenants from properties they can no longer afford to rent due to income lost to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • The order, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), would make it illegal to evict any individual who expects to make less than $99,000 or a joint-filing couple that expects to make less than $198,000 in 2020. 
  • The tenants would still be required to pay rent owed per the terms of the lease, but will be allowed to stay in their unit through the end of the year.

I’ll walk you through the order here.

Unprecedented test of the CDC’s authority: The national eviction ban was issued under a federal law that gives the CDC director authority to impose measures to prevent the spread of communicable disease “as he [or] she deems necessary.” The provision specifically refers to filling the gaps left by “inadequate” state-imposed public health measures and does not directly mention financial aid or overriding contracts between citizens, raising questions about its legality.

How it works: In order to qualify for the eviction protection, a tenant must declare that their 2020 income will fall below the threshold set out in the order; they’ve sought all potential sources of federal housing aid; and that they cannot afford to pay the rent due to a pandemic-related job loss or expense despite their best efforts to do so.

The shortfalls: 

  • Senior administration officials said in a call with reporters that it will be up to local courts to adjudicate eviction filings, but that the federal order should protect all tenants who qualify for the program should they face judicial proceedings.
  • Housing advocates praised the administration for taking action to keep vulnerable tenants from homelessness, but rebuked it for not acting sooner and raised concerns about the rent due by households protected under the order.

“While an eviction moratorium is an essential step, it is a half-measure that extends a financial cliff for renters to fall off of when the moratorium expires and back rent is owed,” said Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).

“This action delays but does not prevent evictions. Congress and the White House must get back to work on negotiations to enact a COVID-19 relief bill with at least $100 billion in emergency rental assistance.”

 

Unemployed struggle to cover basic expenses following CARES expiration: The number of jobless people saying that unemployment insurance does not cover basic expenses including food, clothing, housing and transportation nearly doubled after key benefits expired in July.

A new survey from Morning Consult found that 50 percent of unemployed people said their benefits fell short of covering basic expenses, up from 27 percent in July.

The $600 in extra weekly benefits that Congress passed in March expired at the end of July, leaving many with significantly lower payments. The Hill’s Niv Elis breaks it down here.

Trump payroll tax deferral finds few takers among businesses: September kicks off the payroll tax deferral period initiated by President Trump last month, but few businesses are expected to participate in a plan that would likely lead to less take-home pay for workers early next year.

  • Under guidance issued by the IRS last week, employers can stop withholding Social Security payroll taxes from paychecks from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 for employees who make less than $4,000 on a biweekly basis. 
  • The money would then be collected by having businesses increase the amount of taxes withheld from paychecks in the first four months of 2021.
  • But stakeholders said that in addition to the headache of rushing to update payroll systems, participating in the program would also put their employees in a situation where they’d see smaller than usual paychecks next year.

The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda explains here.

 

GOOD TO KNOW

  • More than $3 billion in loans issued through the coronavirus emergency relief program for small businesses may have gone to firms that already received support or should have been excluded from the program, according to a study released Tuesday by House Democrats.
  • The manufacturing sector continued recovering in August from the sharp downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but employment lagged, according to the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) monthly manufacturing index.
  • The majority of Americans said they support additional coronavirus relief payments, according to a new poll, as Congress and the Trump administration remain deadlocked over another COVID-19 package.
  • Senate Republican leaders hope to vote next week on what they are calling a “focused” and “targeted” coronavirus relief bill, setting up what they hope will be a tough political vote for Democrats shortly before November's elections.