On The Money: Schumer pressured from all sides on spending strategy | GOP hammers HUD chief over sluggish rental aid | Democrat proposes taxes on commercial space flights

On The Money: Schumer pressured from all sides on spending strategy | GOP hammers HUD chief over sluggish rental aid | Democrat proposes taxes on commercial space flights
© Greg Nash

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THE BIG DEAL—Schumer feels pressure from all sides on spending strategy: Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden administration stokes frustration over Canada Schumer blasts McCarthy for picking people who 'supported the big lie' for Jan. 6 panel Biden's belated filibuster decision: A pretense of principle at work MORE (D-N.Y.) is nearing a decision point on how to move President BidenJoe BidenOvernight Defense: Senate panel adds B to Biden's defense budget | House passes bill to streamline visa process for Afghans who helped US | Pentagon confirms 7 Colombians arrested in Haiti leader's killing had US training On The Money: Senate braces for nasty debt ceiling fight | Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan deal | Housing prices hit new high in June Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks MORE’s sweeping infrastructure package as he faces competing pressure points.

The inflection point comes as senators have been working behind the scenes for weeks to try to advance a two-track infrastructure strategy — a bipartisan bill and Democrats’ go-it-alone $3.5 trillion plan — before they leave for a lengthy summer break that’s scheduled to start in a matter of weeks. 

The snag: 

  • Facing a time crunch, Schumer has scheduled a vote for Wednesday to tee up debate on the bipartisan group’s $1.2 trillion plan and get the process moving. 
  • But with Republicans vowing to block the Senate from moving forward as negotiators still try to finalize their agreement, Schumer will need to make a decision about what to do after the failed vote. 

“We have a lot we need to do this month, so we can’t continue to delay and delay. ... We’ve got to keep to a schedule. ... Sen. Schumer has to be able to control the schedule,” Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOn The Money: Senate braces for nasty debt ceiling fight | Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan deal | Housing prices hit new high in June Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan infrastructure deal House bill targets US passport backlog MORE (D-Conn.) told reporters after a closed-door caucus lunch. The Hill’s Jordain Carney has the latest here.

The bigger picture: Democrats have been pursuing a two-track infrastructure strategy, trying to reach an agreement on a smaller bipartisan deal and Democratic unity on a second, larger bill that will include a host of other priorities for the party and Biden.

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The balancing act is tough because support for the bipartisan bill is tied up with Democrats’ plans for the second $3.5 trillion plan, and Schumer is facing pressure from both sides. 

  • Republicans are urging him to cancel Wednesday’s vote, something he’s suggested that he won’t do. 
  • But Schumer is also facing pressure from the House to ditch the bipartisan track after Wednesday’s vote, where progressives are ready to move to the budget resolution.

The Hill’s Mike Lillis has more here on the frustration among House Democrats here.

LEADING THE DAY

Republicans hammer HUD chief over sluggish rental aid: Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeSanders to campaign for Turner in Ohio Just 6.5 percent of rental aid has reached tenants, landlords: Treasury The Hill's Morning Report - High-profile COVID-19 infections spark new worries MORE took heat Tuesday from Republicans over the meager portion of rental aid distributed to tenants and landlords with less than two weeks until a federal eviction ban expires.

Democrats and Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee spent most of a Tuesday hearing  sparring over Fudge’s role in the dismal pace of rental aid distribution and why Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenAfrica doesn't deserve last place in the vaccine race Biden says wages will need to increase to solve recruitment problems Just 6.5 percent of rental aid has reached tenants, landlords: Treasury MORE had not joined her before the committee.

The background: Congress approved a total of $46 billion in rental aid between two coronavirus relief bills passed under former President TrumpDonald TrumpNew Capitol Police chief to take over Friday Overnight Health Care: Biden officials says no change to masking guidance right now | Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of Medicaid expansion | Mississippi's attorney general asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade Michael Wolff and the art of monetizing gossip MORE and President Biden. 

  • Administered by both the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Treasury Department, the program is intended to ensure millions of tenants have enough funds to cover rent and utilities accrued while they were protected from eviction.
  • While the program has distributed all of that money to state and local grantees, only $1.5 billion made it to tenants, landlords and utility companies as of May, according to data released by the Treasury Department last week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also unlikely to extend its eviction ban past July 31, leaving millions facing eviction and deep debt without sorely needed federal aid.

“If we don’t get those resources flowing, there’s going to be a bunch of folks in a terrible jam come sunrise on Aug. 1,” said Rep. Frank LucasFrank Dean LucasRepublicans divided on how hard to push vaccines On The Money: Schumer pressured from all sides on spending strategy | GOP hammers HUD chief over sluggish rental aid | Democrat proposes taxes on commercial space flights Republicans hammer HUD chief over sluggish rental aid MORE (R-Okla.). I’ll take you to the hearing here.

Democrat proposes taxes on commercial space flights: Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerLawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection On The Money: Schumer pressured from all sides on spending strategy | GOP hammers HUD chief over sluggish rental aid | Democrat proposes taxes on commercial space flights Hillicon Valley: Biden to appoint Big Tech critic to DOJ antitrust role | House passes host of bills to strengthen cybersecurity in wake of attacks | Bezos returns from flight to space MORE (D-Ore.) said Tuesday that he is planning to introduce legislation that would establish excise taxes on commercial space flights with human passengers that aren't focused on scientific research.

Blumenauer, a senior member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, announced his proposal on the same day that billionaire Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosThe Hill's Morning Report - Infrastructure vote fails; partisan feud erupts over Jan. 6 panel Why Bezos's space flight really matters The Hill's Morning Report - High-profile COVID-19 infections spark new worries MORE participated in a brief trip to the edge of space. Another billionaire, Richard Branson, made a similar trip earlier this month.

How it works: 

  • The first part would create a per-passenger tax on the price of a flight to space. 
  • The second part would create a two-tiered excise tax for each space launch, with one tier for flights between 50 and 80 miles above the Earth's surface and a second tier with a higher tax for flights that exceed 80 miles above the Earth's surface. 

But don’t worry, my fellow nerds: There would be exceptions to the taxes for NASA flights for scientific research purposes. The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda has more here.

ON TAP TOMORROW:

  • A House Financial Services subcommittee holds a hearing on expanding access to the banking system at 10 a.m. 
  • A House Small Business subcommittee holds a hearing on the SBA’s role in climate change solutions at 10 a.m.
  • A House Ways and Means subcommittee holds a hearing on forced labor in supply chains at 10 a.m.
  • The House Financial Services subcommittee holds a hearing on statistical rating organizations at 2 p.m.

GOOD TO KNOW

ODDS AND ENDS

  • President Biden plans to appoint lawyer Jonathan Kanter as the head of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) antitrust division, the White House announced Tuesday, another sign of the administration’s intention to take on Big Tech.