Democrats’ Infrastructure Bill Hinges on One Verdict | Time


More than Joe Biden’s oft-touted ability to work across the aisle and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s talent for holding together his Democratic colleagues, the fate of Democrats’ massive infrastructure plans may hinge on a person relatively unknown outside the Beltway: the Senate parliamentarian.

That’s right. The fate of the $2 trillion infrastructure plan to rebuild roads and bridges, combat climate change and upgrade airports will most likely come down to the ruling of the Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, the arbiter of what is — and is not — allowed under the Senate’s arcane rules.

Source: Democrats’ Infrastructure Bill Hinges on One Verdict | Time

U.S. Needs a New Agency to Regulate Platforms Like Facebook | Time


Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is telling everyone who will listen that it is time to regulate the internet. But do Facebook and other platform companies support meaningful oversight or simply a regulatory Potemkin Village?

Zuckerberg’s efforts began with a 2019 op-ed in the Washington Post, “The Internet needs new rules.” The article proposed four specific actions including things that Facebook was already doing. A few months later Facebook released a white paper reiterating the ideas. When it was presented to the European Union, the official responsible described it as “too low in terms of responsibility.” It is this same set of proposals that are the basis for Facebook’s multimillion-dollar television, print and digital advertising campaign proclaiming, “We support updated internet regulations.”

Source: U.S. Needs a New Agency to Regulate Platforms Like Facebook | Time

If Democrats Gut Filibuster, Republicans Have a Final Option to Delay Biden’s Agenda


As frustrations mount over opposition to President Joe Biden‘s legislative agenda, more Democrats are getting on board with ending the filibuster, and if Democrats were to gut the Senate rule, Republicans‘ final attempt to delay partisan legislation could be to not show up to work.

The passage of the American Rescue Plan along party lines signaled to Democrats that moving Biden’s agenda through the Senate won’t be an easy task, reigniting talk of ending the filibuster. That would put Democrats in a position of passing legislation without Republican support, but it could come back to haunt them and require them to force senators to come to the floor for votes.

Source: If Democrats Gut Filibuster, Republicans Have a Final Option to Delay Biden’s Agenda

Forgiven Student Loans Could Become Tax-Free Under Biden’s COVID Relief Bill


Student loan borrowers could save thousands of dollars thanks to a provision in President Joe Biden‘s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

Last week, Senate Democrats tucked into the sprawling bill the Student Loan Tax Relief Act to make forgiven student debt tax-free. The provision says that anyone whose loans, private or institutional, are discharged through 2025 will not face tax consequences.

Most forms of forgiven student loan debt are considered taxable income under the Internal Revenue Code.

Source: Forgiven Student Loans Could Become Tax-Free Under Biden’s COVID Relief Bill

‘Anti-Riot’ Measures Open a Wide Door to Censorship | Opinion


Under the guise of “anti-riot” legislation, several states are considering measures ostensibly aimed at protecting public safety.

It’s an understandable pitch. Who wants to defend rioting, looting and destruction of cities and businesses? But attacking people and destroying property and businesses are already against the law.

These proposals would have more insidious effects. Laws don’t have to be called the Censorship Act of 2021 for those in power to use them to target people and ideas with which they disagree.

That’s the likely outcome if states enact “anti-riot” bills with overly broad language that make it easy for authorities to shut down First Amendment activity and arrest protesters whose ideas they don’t like. The proposals tap into legitimate concerns about real problems to justify policies that risk eroding civil liberties without enhancing public safety.

Source: ‘Anti-Riot’ Measures Open a Wide Door to Censorship | Opinion

White House Promises Next Round in $15 Minimum Wage Fight Will Begin This Week


The White House has promised that its second push for the $15 federal minimum wage will begin this week as it plans to line up Senate votes for a second attempt at passing the pay hike.

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told MSNBC on Sunday that the Biden administration would be talking with allies on Capitol Hill this week about a “legislative strategy” for getting the votes needed to pass the $15 minimum wage.

Source: White House Promises Next Round in $15 Minimum Wage Fight Will Begin This Week

Biden’s Tough China Policy Poses Business Risk to Some of His Biggest Donors


What would Joe Biden do if he had to choose between pleasing his political donors or endorsing a key Donald Trump policy? Well, obviously he’s going to…wait a minute. He what???

On the most consequential foreign policy issue that the Biden administration is likely to face—how to deal with the People’s Republic of China—the new Democratic president seems ready to follow the path set out by his Republican predecessor.

It is hard to overstate what a sea change there has been in Washington foreign policy circles over the last four years—a change driven, as Blinken acknowledged, by Donald J. Trump.

Source: Biden’s Tough China Policy Poses Business Risk to Some of His Biggest Donors

Most Small Business Owners Still Haven’t Had PPP Loans Forgiven


Jenna Edwards runs the For a Day Foundation, a nonprofit that helps children with cancer during their hospital stays and has no actual office. So she assumed that getting a loan forgiven from the Paycheck Protection Program to cover two months of payroll would be “pretty automatic,” she said. Congress created the PPP, to be overseen by the U.S. Small Business Administration, last March to cover payroll and other expenses in the coronavirus pandemic with the promise that loans would be forgiven, essentially converted to grants.

She was wrong. In September, she submitted a completed one-page application for forgiveness to her account with PayPal LoanBuilder and was told it would be reviewed within 60 days. At first she got emails regularly saying it was under review with contact information for her loan specialist, but then those stopped coming. In mid-January, she logged into her account and saw she had been assigned a different loan specialist and emailed him but never got a response.

Source: Most Small Business Owners Still Haven’t Had PPP Loans Forgiven

Why a Debate on the Minimum Wage Could Spark a D.C. Meltdown | Time


Washington is a lot like high school: being popular doesn’t necessarily translate to getting taken seriously. Twin Democratic priorities are about to face their Mean Girls test.

On Saturday, the House passed Democrats’ $1.9 trillion pandemic-relief package, which included a provision to double the current federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by June of 2025. Because Republicans are refusing to go along, Democrats planned to use a budget gimmick to let them avoid a filibuster and pass it into law with a slim 50-vote majority, plus the backing of Vice President Kamala Harris. But the Senate’s keeper of the rules, its parliamentarian, ruled that lawmakers couldn’t use the trick here because the wage hike — which would lift almost a million Americans out of poverty — wasn’t really a budget move.

Source: Why a Debate on the Minimum Wage Could Spark a D.C. Meltdown | Time

The $15 minimum wage could be the first major test of Democratic unity  | Vox


Once the Covid-19 relief bill heads to the Senate, the $15 minimum wage will face two big tests: one procedural, and one political.

On the procedural front, Democrats need to convince the Senate parliamentarian — an in-house expert who advises on the rules of the upper chamber — that the $15 minimum wage has a significant enough effect on the budget that it can be part of the reconciliation process. Because of a practice known as the Byrd Rule, any policy that’s not seen as sufficiently budget-related can be flagged for removal by the parliamentarian. (Democrats don’t have to abide by this decision, but there have been few breaks with such guidance in the past.)

Source: The $15 minimum wage could be the first major test of Democratic unity  – Vox