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On The Money: Social Security gives IRS data for COVID-19 relief checks | Senate passes bill heading off Medicare cuts

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THE BIG DEAL — Social Security gives IRS data to speed delivery of COVID-19 relief checks: For millions of vulnerable Americans, help is finally on the way.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) on Thursday sent the IRS data necessary to deliver coronavirus stimulus checks to people receiving government assistance after lawmakers expressed alarm that the payments were delayed.

The delay was a result of the SSA being unable to immediately transfer data to the IRS upon the law's enactment on those beneficiaries who don't have to file tax returns because their incomes fall below the minimum threshold. The Hill’s Cristina Marcos explains here.

So what went wrong? A spokesperson for the SSA told The Hill on Wednesday evening that the agency didn't have the authorization to send the beneficiary files to the IRS before the pandemic relief law was enacted, even though they already talked about it with the IRS.

Senior Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee had demanded Wednesday that the SSA deliver the beneficiary information to the IRS within 24 hours, and the agency sent it over this morning.

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"We are gratified that the SSA leadership finally recognized the urgency of the moment and acted swiftly on our ultimatum," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealGAO report finds maternal mortality rates higher in rural, underserved areas On The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July Rural Democrats urge protections from tax increases for family farms MORE (D-Mass.) and Democratic Reps. Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellAmerica's Jewish communities are under attack — Here are 3 things Congress can do Democrats warn Waters censure move opens floodgates Lawmakers launch bipartisan caucus on SALT deduction MORE (N.J.), Danny K. Davis (Ill.) and John Larson John Barry LarsonTo encourage innovation, Congress should pass two bills protecting important R&D tax provision Democrats have a growing tax problem with SALT On The Money: Social Security gives IRS data for COVID-19 relief checks | Senate passes bill heading off Medicare cuts MORE (Conn.) said in a joint statement.

"The delays imposed by [SSA] Commissioner [Andrew] Saul defied congressional intent and imposed needless anxiety and pain on taxpayers. Now the IRS needs to do its job and get these overdue payments out to suffering Americans. Further delays will not be tolerated by this committee," the lawmakers added.

LEADING THE DAY

Senate passes bill heading off Medicare cuts: The Senate on Thursday passed a bill postponing automatic spending cuts to Medicare providers, pushing back an April deadline to December, while also punting on a decision about additional cutbacks at year's end.

The legislation passed in a 90-2 vote, with only Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Sherrod Brown calls Rand Paul 'kind of a lunatic' for not wearing mask Overnight Health Care: WHO-backed Covax gets a boost from Moderna MORE (R-Ky.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeySasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote Philly GOP commissioner on censures: 'I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying' Toomey censured by several Pennsylvania county GOP committees over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.) voting against the measure.

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The background: The bill was largely prompted by the 2011 Budget Control Act, which instituted annual 2 percent reductions in Medicare payments as part of an effort to rein in spending and push both parties to compromise. Congress has voted to avert planned cuts to the popular program every year, in addition to raising spending caps.

The Hill’s Niv Elis explains here.

Adeyemo confirmed as deputy Treasury secretary: The Senate on Thursday confirmed Wally AdeyemoWally AdeyemoTreasury announces COVID-19 relief oversight office On The Money: Social Security gives IRS data for COVID-19 relief checks | Senate passes bill heading off Medicare cuts Senate confirms Adeyemo as deputy Treasury secretary MORE as the deputy secretary of the Treasury, making him the department’s first Black No. 2 official.

Adeyemo was confirmed Thursday via voice vote, a process through which the Senate can approve non-controversial legislation and nominations without formally recording the decisions of each senator. The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved his nomination on March 3 after Adeyemo won broad bipartisan praise during his confirmation hearing.

About Adeyemo: 

  • Adeyemo served in a variety of high-ranking roles during the Obama administration, including deputy director of the White House National Economic Council and deputy national security advisor. 
  • He was also the first chief of staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.
  • Adeyemo is expected to focus primarily on international and national security-related issues under Treasury’s jurisdiction, including financial sanctions, amid growing tensions between the U.S. and global adversaries. 

I have more here.

GOOD TO KNOW

ODDS AND ENDS