On The Money: Pelosi says House will move immediately on COVID-19 relief | Biden faces backlash over debt | 900,000 more Americans file for unemployment benefits
Happy Wednesday and welcome back to On The Money. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.
THE BIG DEAL—Pelosi says House will move immediately on COVID-19 relief: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that House Democrats will move immediately on a massive coronavirus relief package, setting the stage for an early showdown in the newly flipped Senate over the chief legislative priority of the nascent Biden administration.
- House Democrats have rearranged their schedule over the next two weeks, scrapping votes next week to allow committees to work on provisions of their emerging COVID-19 relief package.
- Pelosi suggested that the package could hit the House floor as early as the week of Feb. 1.
“We’re getting ready for a COVID relief package. We’ll be working on that as we go,” she told reporters in the Capitol. “We’ll be doing our … committee work all next week so that we are completely ready to go to the floor when we come back.”
The Hill’s Mike Lillis tells us more about the road ahead.
The background: President Biden last week unveiled a $1.9 trillion emergency relief package, which features many of the wish-list items contained in earlier proposals from Pelosi and House Democrats.
- House Democrats, who had approved a $3.4 trillion package last year that was ignored by Senate Republicans, are quickly jumping on board, forecasting easy passage in the lower chamber whenever it does hit the floor.
- But another enormous coronavirus bill faces a tough road in the Senate, where Republicans are already signaling their opposition to Biden’s proposal.
Biden faces backlash over debt: Biden has already made clear his intention to go big on government spending, but Republicans are starting to sound deficit alarms, and economists are split over how deep into the red the U.S. can go before the economy begins buckling.
- Washington’s response to the coronavirus pandemic helped dig the 2020 deficit into a $3.1 trillion hole.
- But the debt was growing even before the pandemic, with the 2019 deficit closing in on $1 trillion, fueled by increased spending on both the defense and domestic sides of the ledger, unfunded tax cuts, increasing health costs and an aging population.
Still, the fact that Biden is expected to unveil a multitrillion-dollar package focused on a long-term recovery in the coming weeks, likely focused on infrastructure, is raising some concerns among budget watchdog groups that growing debt levels will set up future problems.
The Hill’s Niv Elis explains here.
LEADING THE DAY
900,000 more Americans file for unemployment benefits: The number of new applications for unemployment insurance declined slightly last week to 900,000, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department.
In the week ending Jan. 16, the number of weekly jobless claims fell by 26,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 926,000.
States also received 423,734 applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program created to expand jobless benefits to gig workers, contractors and others who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment insurance.
The takeaway: Weekly jobless claims data is vulnerable to inconsistencies due to backlogs and shoddy state unemployment processing systems. The persistence of high weekly claims, however, show the depth of the damage to the labor market caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
ON TAP TOMORROW
- The Senate Finance Committee votes on the recommendation of Janet Yellen’s nomination to be Treasury secretary, 10 a.m.
GOOD TO KNOW
- President Biden on Thursday appointed Allison Herren Lee to serve as acting chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
- A Florida bank announced Thursday that it has closed down former President Trump’s account, joining a growing list of entities that have cut ties with the former president following the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
- Stocks closed relatively flat on Thursday, President Biden’s first full day in office, having set new records on inauguration day.
- IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said Thursday that the agency is “current” on its mail, after having a large backlog for much of last year because of the pandemic.
ODDS AND ENDS
- A federal judge on Thursday denied Parler’s request for a court order that would have forced Amazon to immediately resume hosting the controversial social media platform following its suspension earlier this month.
- Op-Ed: Jeffrey Kucik, an associate professor at the University of Arizona, argues that Trump ”fueled economic inequality in America.”
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