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Daily Briefing – 377

Post: Sep. 20, 2021

House to Vote on Temporary Spending Measure That Includes Debt-Limit Suspension

Democratic leaders said Monday they would attach a suspension of the debt limit through December 2022 to a short-term spending bill the House is expected to vote on this week. The decision does little to resolve the deep partisan fight over how and when lawmakers will act to prevent the federal government from running out of cash. Republicans have said they would oppose any effort to raise the government’s borrowing limit in protest to Democrats’ plans to move trillions of dollars in new spending through Congress.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday that suspending the debt limit through December 2022 reflected an appropriate length of time to cover the debt incurred by a roughly $900 billion bipartisan Covid-19 relief package passed last year under former President Donald Trump. Raising the debt limit doesn’t authorize new spending, but rather allows the Treasury Department to issue new debt to cover spending that Congress has already authorized.

Read more at the WSJ

Evergrande Worries Spark Sell-Off  as Dow Industrials Skid Over 800 Points Monday

Growing fears of China Evergrande defaulting rattled global markets on Monday as investors worried about the potential impact on the wider economy dumped Chinese property stocks and sought refuge in safe-haven assets.  Shares in Evergrande closed down 10.2% at on Monday, after earlier plummeting 19% to its weakest level since May 2010.  Regulators have warned that its $305 billion of liabilities could spark broader risks to China’s financial system if its debts are not stabilised.

World shares skidded and the dollar firmed as investors fretted about the spillover risk to the global economy. U.S. stocks were sharply lower, with the S&P 500 (.SPX) down nearly 2%. read more.

Read more at Reuters

Biden Administration Easing Restrictions for Vaccinated Foreign Visitors

All foreign visitors must be vaccinated against COVID-19, and must show proof of vaccination before boarding a U.S.-bound airline, White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said. He added that visitors traveling by plane must also provide a negative test taken no more than 72 hours prior to flying.

There will be no quarantine requirement, but Zients said there will be enhanced contact tracing, and masks will continue to be required on flights. Unvaccinated Americans will need to provide a negative test within one day of departure, and then test again when they arrive

Read more at The Hill

Senate Parliamentarian Deals Blow to Dems’ Immigration Push

Democrats can’t use their $3.5 trillion package bolstering social and climate programs for their plan to give millions of immigrants a chance to become citizens, the Senate’s parliamentarian said late Sunday, a crushing blow to what was the party’s clearest pathway in years to attaining that long-sought goal.

The parliamentarian opinion is crucial because it means the immigration provisions could not be included in an immense $3.5 trillion measure that’s been shielded from GOP filibusters. Left vulnerable to those bill-killing delays, which require 60 Senate votes to defuse, the immigration language.

Read more at Yahoo News

US COVID-19 Update – Covid-19 Rapid Testing in U.S. Lags Behind Other Countries

The Biden administration last week committed $2 billion to boost test manufacturing and distribute free rapid tests to some community sites. Retailers are discounting their prices for consumers. But manufacturers are falling short of demand, and prices remain too high to encourage people to use the tests regularly, public-health experts and economists say.

Rapid tests now cost at least $14 for a two-pack at U.S. retailers, compared with $5 or less in some countries, including Germany. The U.K. government distributes them for free. In those and some other countries, such tests are nearly ubiquitous, while this summer they became hard to find at some U.S. retailers and e-commerce sites as the Delta variant pushed up infections.

Read more at the WSJ

NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Monday September 20th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 70.0 of all New Yorkers – 13,580,513 (plus 18,294 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,430,467 (plus 1,583) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 62.6% of all New Yorkers – 12,167,781 are fully vaccinated (Plus 17,562)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,268,613 (plus 2,089) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Sunday September 19th.  There were 32 COVID related deaths for a total of 56,309


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,333.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 2.95%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.07%

Useful Websites:

COVID Vaccine For Kids Ages 5 To 11 Is Safe And Effective, Pfizer Says

The pharmaceutical company said early results of their trial indicate the vaccine is safe for children and establishes a strong antibody response against the virus. This trial used a smaller vaccine dosage, 10 micrograms, rather than the 30 microgram dose used for people 12 and older. The dosage was selected as the preferred dose for safety and effectiveness in young children.

Giving a two-dose regimen of 10 μg (micrograms) administered 21 days apart for children between 5 and 11 years old was well tolerated, according to Pfizer and BioNTech. Side effects were also generally comparable to those of people between the ages of 16 and 25 years old who received the vaccine.

Read more at NPR

Five Things to Watch as Biden Heads to the UN

President Biden will address the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday for the first time as president as world leaders gather in New York City this week.  The meeting comes as Biden faces outrage from France over a new submarine deal, looming safety concerns over COVID-19 and global vaccine rates and questions about the U.S. role in the world after the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Here are five things to watch as Biden addresses and meets with his counterparts.

Read more at the Hill

Tesla, Toyota and Honda are Crying Foul at Proposed Union-Built-EV Tax Credits in Dem Budget Proposal

Discussion of President Biden’s $3.5 trillion plan picked up this week after the Ways & Means Committee discussed proposed changes September 13 through 15. In addition to including a smaller-than-previously-planned corporate tax increase, the plans put UAW-represented automakers at odds with Toyota, Honda, and Tesla over changes to electric-vehicle subsidies. The budget still faces stout resistance from Republicans as well as key budget-conservative Democrats.

According to the UAW, purchases of electronic vehicles are currently subsidized with a $7,500 tax credit for an automaker’s first 200,000 EVs sold. Both General Motors and Tesla have already passed the 200,000 vehicle threshold. A proposed budget provision, put forth by Representative Dan Kildee, a Democrat from Flint, Michigan, would remove that threshold and add an extra $4,500 tax credit for electric cars built by union employees and $500 more for U.S.-made batteries, for a total tax credit of $12,500 for a U.S.-union-built EV that uses American batteries.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Natural-Gas Prices Surge, and Winter Is Still Months Away

Natural-gas prices have surged, prompting worries about winter shortages and forecasts for the most expensive fuel since frackers flooded the market more than a decade ago. U.S. natural-gas futures ended Friday at $5.105 per million British thermal units. They were about half that six months ago and have leapt 17% this month. 

The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Thursday will give a fresh estimate of the volume of natural gas in storage, which it last estimated to be 16.5% less than a year ago. Now is the time of year when drillers fill storage tanks and caverns to get through winter, when demand is greatest and households are most exposed to higher prices in their heating bills. 

Read more at the WSJ

Green Energy Infrastructure Projects to Power New York City with Wind, Solar and Hydropower from Upstate New York and Canada

Governor Kathy Hochul yesterday announced two major green energy infrastructure projects to power New York City with wind, solar and hydropower projects from upstate New York and Canada. This announcement will help reduce the City’s reliance on fossil fuels, lower carbon emissions and significantly improve air quality and public health in disadvantaged communities while accelerating progress to exceed New York’s goal for 70 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030 on the path to a zero-emission grid as outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act).

The announcement is bolstered by New York City’s confirmation they will join in these landmark awards. This makes the scale of these awards possible while creating the opportunity for billions of dollars in savings for customers in New York City and statewide.

Read the press release

Unworkable Solution: Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanisms and Global Climate Innovation

As policymakers hone their domestic climate policies to strengthen nationally determined contributions under the 2015 Paris Agreement, a persistent fear weighs on them. No leader wants to be the one who, in the name of combating climate change, ends up putting their domestic industries at a global competitive disadvantage, costing good paying jobs, reducing the tax base, and creating new security risks.

Carbon border adjustment mechanisms (CBAMs) appear to provide a way out of this dilemma for the growing number of jurisdictions that have made carbon pricing a cornerstone of their polices. By adding a tariff to the price of imports made in places that are not subject to a carbon price,  The problem is that, while CBAMs are attractive in theory, they are unworkable in practice.

Read more at Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

Flight Bookings Plummet Amid Delta Variant Fears

Flight bookings rapidly declined in August and early September amid a surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant. Online customers spent $4 billion on flights within the U.S. in August, down 24 percent from July and 35 percent below pre-pandemic levels, according to an analysis from Adobe Digital Insights. 

Airlines have indicated that the delta variant’s continued spread has caused travelers to cancel their flights. Figures from the Transportation Security Administration confirms that air travel hasn’t picked back up in recent weeks. The agency screened roughly 1.9 million travelers on Friday, down from around 2.6 million people on the same day in 2019. 

Read more at The Hill

Biden Administration to Write Workplace Safety Rule Tackling Heat Stress

The Biden administration announced Monday that it will begin crafting a standard to protect workers from heat. The White House said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will publish an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, the first step in the process for designing federal regulations, in the Federal Register next month.

While the rulemaking process will take many months, the Biden administration also committed to more near-term actions.  OSHA will expand workplace enforcement on days where the heat index exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit by sending more people to investigate complaints. It will also expand education for employers on how to prevent heat illness.

Read more at Politico