Happy Tuesday! Summer is unofficially over, and campaign season is in full swing as Election Day is now nine weeks away. But as Congress returns to action this month after a long August recess, lawmakers also have some basic business to take care of — namely, keeping the federal government open past September 30.
Here’s what you need to know.
White House Seeks $47 Billion in Emergency Funding as Part of Stopgap Spending Bill
Current funding for the federal government will run out at the end of the month. While Congress and the Biden administration are still working to reach a budget deal for the new fiscal year that starts October 1, lawmakers will first need to pass a short-term spending bill known as a continuing resolution to avoid a partial government shutdown when September ends.
"The CR under discussion in the House would extend spending at roughly fiscal 2022 levels to Dec. 16, two and half months into the new fiscal year, with exceptions for a number of ‘anomalies’ enabling higher funding rates for various programs," Roll Call’s Paul M. Krawzak reports, noting that the length of the stopgap funding could still change. "The current plan is for the House to consider the stopgap bill the week of Sept. 12, leaving plenty of time, in theory, to get it through the Senate and to Biden's desk."
Biden admin asks for $47B in supplemental spending: Neither party wants a shutdown ahead of the November midterm elections, but there may still be a few bumps on the path to a stopgap funding bill.
The White House might have added a hurdle or two by calling for the short-term funding bill to also include just over $47 billion in emergency spending for what it said were four critical needs: support for Ukraine, Covid-19 pandemic funding, monkeypox response and natural disaster recovery.
The White House is seeking:
* $13.7 billion in aid for Ukraine, including $7.2 billion in additional defense funding, $4.5 billion for budgetary support for the Ukrainian government and $2 billion to address the impact of the war on the U.S. energy supply.
* $22.4 billion for Covid-19 response, including additional testing, the development of new vaccines and treatments and support for international pandemic efforts. (See more on this below.)
* $4.5 billion to combat the spread of monkeypox
* $6.5 billion to help states recover from natural disasters and extreme weather events.
The administration is reportedly seeking the supplemental funding without offsetting cuts, disappointing budget hawks. "If these truly are priorities for the White House, they should suggest accompanying spending cuts or revenues to pay for them," said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
Republicans have objected to providing additional pandemic funding and reportedly could push for a "clean" funding extension or one with fewer new spending provisions.
Other potential issues: Democrats reportedly also face some difficulties in finding enough support for attaching energy permitting legislation pushed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to the must-pass funding measure. And Punchbowl News reports that Democratic leaders are considering attaching a provision codifying same-sex marriage rights to the spending bill. "This would dramatically raise the political stakes surrounding the vote on the continuing resolution," Punchbowl notes.
Other looming deadlines: A number of other expiring programs could be addressed by adding them to the spending bill. "A key Food and Drug Administration user fee program, which makes up nearly half of the agency’s annual budget, is set to expire at the end of the fiscal year," Politico notes. "Congressional action is needed to prevent huge layoffs at the agency."
The bottom line: Congress will have to fund the government via a stopgap spending measure that sets up yet another fiscal fight in the lame-duck session after the midterm elections.
White House Repeats Call for New Covid Funding
Biden administration officials on Tuesday warned again that the federal government lacks funds to respond to another surge in Covid-19, should one occur this fall and winter.
The White House has requested billions in new funding to prepare for another surge, but Congress has failed to act on the request, with some lawmakers saying they have provided enough money, which could be repurposed from other programs.
Speaking at a press briefing, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha noted that the lack of funding has already had an effect. "We had to shut down COVIDTests.gov, a wildly popular program, where two-thirds of American households had ordered tests — shut it down because we do not have enough tests in our stockpile. We do not have the ability to continue," Jha said. "Congress has not stepped up."
New vaccine campaign: Meanwhile, health officials highlighted the new Covid-19 vaccine booster, which targets the latest viral variants and will become widely available soon. "By the end of this week, over 90 percent of Americans will live within five miles of these new updated vaccines," Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said at the briefing.
President Biden and White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said that Covid booster shots would likely become a regular thing. "This week, we begin a new phase in our COVID-19 response," Biden said in a statement. "We are launching a new vaccine – our first in almost two years – with a new approach. For most Americans, that means one COVID-19 shot, once a year, each fall."
Biden’s $50 Billion Plan to Boost Chip Production in the US
The Biden administration on Tuesday released new details about how it plans to spend roughly $50 billion in public money to foster the production of computer chips in the U.S.
The funds — provided as part of the $280 billion legislative package focused on strategically important science and technology that was signed into law by President Joe Biden in August — will be distributed by the Department of Commerce.
About $28 billion will be used for grants and loans to help build facilities that will produce next-generation computer chips. An additional $10 billion will be used to expand existing facilities that produce the current generation of chips, such as those used in the automotive industry. And $11 billion will be dedicated to research and development of chip technology.
In order to win funding, companies will need to demonstrate that their projects will advance "long-term strategic goals," according to a Commerce press release. Those goals include regaining manufacturing capabilities that have recently migrated to China and Taiwan. The department also wants to see evidence that the firms can attract additional sources of capital from private firms and state investment funds.
Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo told The New York Times that her department would start accepting applications for funding no later than February, and that money could start flowing next spring. The department will hire about 50 people to review applications.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a once-in-a-generation opportunity, to secure our national security and revitalize American manufacturing and revitalize American innovation and research and development," Raimondo said. "So, although we’re working with urgency, we have to get it right, and that’s why we are laying out the strategy now."
Number of the Day: $438.5 Million
Juul Labs, which makes the Juul electronic cigarette, has agreed to pay $438.5 million to settle a complaint brought by 33 states and Puerto Rico about the way the company marketed its products to young people.
Juul’s sales techniques include aggressive social media campaigns, hiring young models to use the products and providing free samples. The company also created sweet flavors to appeal to younger people and manipulated the chemicals in its products to reduce throat irritation. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said that Juul dominated the vape market "by willfully engaging in an advertising campaign that appealed to youth, even though its e-cigarettes are both illegal for them to purchase and are unhealthy for youth to use."
Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it was removing Juul products from the U.S. market, saying they "have played a disproportionate role in the rise in youth vaping." Juul sued to prevent the ban, winning a temporary reprieve as the FDA examines the company’s claim that its products can be used to help people stop smoking.
Under the terms of the settlement, Juul agreed to stop targeting younger consumers, though the company said it had voluntarily stopped doing so some time ago.
- Stopgap Funding Bill Set to Dominate September Agenda – Roll Call
- Biden Convenes Cabinet Meeting to Tout Summer Accomplishments – CNN
- White House Stresses Need for New COVID Funding as Fall Booster Campaign Rolls Out – The Hill
- Desperate Patients Want a New ALS Drug. The FDA Is Not Sure It Works. – Washington Post
- Biden, Remaking Climate Team, Picks John Podesta to Guide Spending – New York Times
- Climate Chief Gina McCarthy Leaving White House as John Podesta Returns – Politico
- The Nation's Poorest State Used Welfare Money to Pay Brett Favre for Speeches He Never Made – NBC News
Views and Analysis
- Congress Returns and the Main Mission Is Keeping the Lights On – Leigh Ann Caldwell and Theodoric Meyer, Washington Post
- State Department Is Offering Big Rewards for Info on Hackers, to Uncertain Ends – Tim Starks, Washington Post
- A Raise for Seniors Won’t Do Inflation Fight Any Favors – Jonathan Levin, Bloomberg
- Has Bidenomics Been Good for Workers? – Paul Krugman, New York Times
- Biden Administration Has Discharged $34 Billion in Student Debt – Ronda Lee, Yahoo Finance
- Closing Schools Should Be the Last Option in a Pandemic – Stephen L. Carter, Bloomberg
- Debtors, Unite! You Have Nothing to Lose but Your Shame – Astra Taylor, New York Times
- Economics, Democracy, and Freedom: It’s All One Argument – Michael Tomasky, New Republic
- The World Is Getting Less Flat – Paul Krugman, New York Times