House Of Representatives Works Over The Weekend To Prepare Reconciliation Bill WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 26: A family buys ice cream at a food truck on the National Mall with the U.S. Capitol building in the distance on September 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress is heading into the week with the deadline for debt ceiling negotiations approaching and as President Joe Biden said on Friday that the infrastructure bill remains at a stalemate. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)Samuel Corum / Stringer
Samuel Corum/Stringer/Getty Images

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Tuesday | September 28th, 2021

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1) Congress Prepares For Big Spending Week

The Topline: The House of Representatives will vote on raising the debt ceiling, keeping the government open, and approving $4.5 trillion in new spending by Friday.

Quote Of The Day:

 “Try us. I got more than half of the caucus who feels very strongly we’re going to deliver the entirety of the President’s agenda to the President.”

– Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)

Samuel Corum/Bloomberg/Contributor/Getty Images

Spending Items

Government spending authorization is scheduled to expire at 12:01 Friday morning, which would mean non-essential parts of the government would shut down until Congress authorizes new spending. 

A debt ceiling of $28.5 trillion went into effect on August 1st. Since then, the government has been funding federal programs through what it calls “extraordinary measures.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the government would run out of money sometime in October without a new spending bill. 

Congressional Republicans have said they would support a clean bill to fund the government, but Democrats paired government funding with a provision to raise the debt ceiling, which led Republicans to kill the bill on a party-line vote, 48-50, on Monday.

Remember: If the debt ceiling isn’t raised this week, nothing will happen right away. After the Treasury runs out of cash-on-hand, the federal government would still collect more than enough tax receipts to make the interest payments on the national debt, as well as Social Security, Medicare, and many other government programs. However, it could result in freezing the salaries of some federal employees and putting others on furlough. 

Two ‘Infrastructure’ Bills

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wants to advance two bills this week. 

The first is the president’s $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act, which contains social policies like government-funded preschool and ‘free’ community college. 

The second bill is the trillion-dollar Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which is largely traditional infrastructure. 

The Debate

House Progressive Caucus chair, Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), said its members will vote against the infrastructure bill unless the House first votes on the president’s bill to expand government programs. She also said House progressives won’t accept any bill with less than $3.5 trillion in government spending. 

 Nine lean-centrist House Democrats have said they will not vote for the $3.5 trillion bill until the infrastructure bill has been signed into law. 

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has said $3.5 trillion is too expensive, and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) opposes the income and corporate tax hikes the bill will likely contain. 

Key Point: Unless the Democrats are able to win almost all of these votes, the bill can’t become law. 

Andrew Lichtenstein/Contributor/Corbis/Getty Images

2) New York Vaccine Mandate Threatens Healthcare Workforce

The Topline: Tens of thousands of New York healthcare workers are expected to lose their jobs this week as the state’s vaccine mandate for health workers goes into effect.

Quote Of The Day:

“What is looming for Monday is completely avoidable, and there’s no excuses.” 

New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D)

Background

The vaccine mandate for health care workers was announced last month by former Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY). As of Monday, health workers at all hospitals and nursing homes in New York must have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to keep their jobs.

Tens of thousands of workers still haven’t been vaccinated, meaning New York could face mass firings leaving health care facilities understaffed.

The state labor department said health workers fired for refusing to get vaccinated will not be able to collect unemployment insurance unless they had a medical exemption. 

The Response

On Saturday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) tried to prepare for a staffing emergency by releasing a plan to potentially deploy medically trained National Guard members to replace unvaccinated workers. 

Hochul said she may also call in recent medical graduates, retirees, out-of-state workers, or foreign workers to help.

The Numbers

As of last week, 85% of hospital workers in New York were fully vaccinated, while around 15% were not fully vaccinated. Among nursing home and adult care facility staff, 77% and 81% were fully vaccinated.

The estimated number of workers not fully vaccinated is as many as 95,000 people.

Legal Point: In New York City, a vaccine mandate for all public school workers was blocked by a legal challenge before it took effect. 

Oscar Wong/Getty Images

3) Facebook Reveals New Censorship Guidelines

The Topline:  Facebook released its new content guidelines for suppressing posts on its platform, sparking controversy.

“Content Distribution Guidelines” 

Last week, Facebook made their “Content Distribution Guidelines” public, which they say are a list of policies explaining how they suppress certain content.

While Facebook’s “Community Guidelines” explain what is and is not deleted from Facebook, their “Content Distribution Guidelines” explain what is and is not suppressed on Facebook.

With almost 30 items split into three categories, the guidelines are very broad. 

The first category focuses on reacting to user feedback, the second claims to incentivize the spread of what they call “high-quality and accurate” content, and the third seeks to provide users with a “safer community.”

For Example: In the “Fact-Checked Misinformation” section, Facebook said posts can be downranked before they’re confirmed as misinformation.

Political Implications

In July, President Joe Biden’s Surgeon General called on “Big Tech” companies to impose “consequences” for users who violated platform policies.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has pushed Amazon to use its algorithm to throttle the sale of books which she characterizes as spreading “COVID-19 misinformation.”

Octavio Jones/Stringer/Getty Images

Other Stories We’re Tracking

Norway Ends COVID-19 Restrictions

On Sunday, dozens of brawls and public disturbances broke out in Norway as Norwegians filled bars and restaurants while celebrating the end of COVID-19 restrictions. In an unexpected announcement on Friday, outgoing Prime Minister Erna Solberg said, “It has been 561 days since we introduced the toughest measures in Norway in peacetime,” adding “Now the time has come to return to a normal daily life.”

Brian Laundrie 

The FBI has reportedly asked for some of Brian Laundrie’s personal belongings to help them with DNA matching efforts. According to the Laundrie family lawyer, his relatives have complied with agency requests. The search for Laundrie continues after the remains of his fiancee, Gabby Petito, were discovered and her death was declared a homicide. 

Migrants Headed To U.S.

A new report shows more migrants might be making their way to the United States. According to Reuters, two Panamanian government sources said up to 4,000 migrants, the majority of whom are Haitians, have gone through Panama heading to the U.S.

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