Arizona Republicans Pressure Yellen Not to Claw Back COVID Aid

Republican members of Arizona’s congressional delegation have a demand for United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen: don’t take federal relief funding away from the state.

Arizona is scheduled to receive $4.2 billion from the federal government as a part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan; it has received nearly $1.2 billion of that money so far.

However, the United States Treasury Department has warned the state that it may forfeit $163 million if it doesn’t change its actions.

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Biden Administration to Distribute Millions of COVID-19 Tests to K-12 Schools Each Month

President Joe Biden’s administration plans to provide millions of COVID-19 tests to K-12 schools each month, the White House said in a Wednesday statement.

This month, the Biden administration will start shipping five million rapid COVID-19 tests each month to K-12 schools across the country in an effort to keep schools open amid a spike in COVID-19 cases and the rise of the Omicron coronavirus variant, according to White House officials. The new tests will allow schools to double the “volume of testing” from November 2021.

The administration also plans to expand lab capacity to provide an additional five million tests per month so schools can “perform individual and pooled testing in classrooms nationwide.”

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Iowa Attorney General Sues Sioux City, Seeking Permanent Injunction, Civil Penalties Regarding Wastewater

The state of Iowa on Friday sued the city of Sioux City regarding discharge of wastewater.

In the lawsuit, the state asks the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County to make the city pay up to $5,000 per day of violations of state wastewater treatment regulations (Iowa Code section 455B.186(1), 567 Iowa Admin. Code 64.3(1)) and the city’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. It seeks a permanent injunction preventing Sioux City from further violations of these state laws and the treatment permit requirements.

The state said that for periods between March 15, 2012, and June 8, 2015, Sioux City’s treatment facility would only properly disinfect water discharges on days it collected and submitted samples for E. coli contamination to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the lawsuit said.

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Demand for Gov. Ducey’s School Vouchers to Leave Arizona Schools That Mandate Masks or Require Unvaccinated Students to Quarantine Exceeds Funds

Doug Ducey

Just three weeks after Gov. Doug Ducey announced that school districts issuing mask mandates or requiring vaccinated students to quarantine would be penalized by diverting money to students to use as school vouchers to attend elsewhere, demand has exceeded the $20 million he allotted by twice the amount. Ducey announced on August 17 that money the state received from the federal government through the pandemic-generated American Rescue Plan to boost per-pupil spending would not go to any of those schools.

Ducey made the announcement immediately following a demand on August 11 from Republican state legislators to take action regarding those school districts. They suggested that Ducey could withhold federal funds and offer vouchers, which he did, but he did not go so far as following their recommendation of suing the school districts.

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Tenants Nationwide Behind on Rent Despite Billions of Unspent Federal Aid

Low-income tenants across the country are behind on rent payments because of the pandemic, even as billions of dollars appropriated by Congress to assist renters remain untouched.

About $5.2 billion of the $46.6 billion — roughly 11% — set aside for the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program has been distributed to low-income tenants, according to the most recent data released by the Department of the Treasury on Wednesday. House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Patrick McHenry characterized the Biden administration’s handling of the ERA program as “gross mismanagement.”

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Jobless Claims Climb with Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Set to Expire

Photo “Unemployment Insurance Claims Office” by Bytemarks. CC BY 2.0.

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims increased to 353,000 last week as the economy continues its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics figure released Thursday presents a slight increase in the number of new jobless claims compared to the week ending Aug. 14, when 349,000 new jobless claims were reported. The Aug. 7 to Aug. 14 figure was revised from the 348,000 jobless claims initially reported last week.

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Biden Keeps Making the Same Dubious Jobs Claim

President Joe Biden repeatedly mischaracterized the job growth that has occurred since he took office, saying it is a product of his administration’s economic agenda, multiple media fact checkers have reported.

While the Biden administration has overseen the economic recovery during a period of large gains in the labor market, the White House hasn’t acknowledged that states reopening and ending pandemic-related business restrictions is likely the main catalyst for such growth. The president has also credited without evidence the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which he signed into law in March, for driving job growth.

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Atlanta, Dallas, Tampa, and St. Louis Among the Cities Experiencing the Highest Consumer Price Spikes

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve Bank and Congress have taken unprecedented steps to stabilize the economy after entire industries and sectors ground to a halt last year amidst the public health crisis. The Fed has kept interest rates near zero, created lending programs to pump trillions of dollars into the economy, and bought securities to support financial markets. Congress passed three major COVID-19 stimulus packages in response to the crisis: the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March 2020, the $900 billion Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act in December 2020, and the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan in March 2021.

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Biden Administration Unveils ‘Historic’ Investment for Communities That Could Create 300,000 Jobs in the ‘Near Term’

President Joe Biden’s administration announced that it would give $3 billion in coronavirus stimulus funds to approved local communities across the country.

The program dubbed “Investing in America’s Communities” amounts to the largest initiative of its kind in decades, according to the Department of Commerce. Local governments and organizations nationwide impacted by the coronavirus pandemic are able to apply to receive the federal funds.

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Ducey Invests Millions of Federal Dollars to Start Visit Arizona Initiative

Three people on bikes in Arizona during sundown

Gov. Doug Ducey is investing $101.1 million from the federal American Rescue Plan funding to launch the Visit Arizona Initiative to increase tourism spending in Arizona and expedite its economic recovery. 

“Tourism is essential for Arizona’s booming economy and job growth,” Ducey said in a release. 

He said that when tourists stay at Arizona hotels, eat at restaurants, buy Arizona products, and partake in the state’s recreational activities, Arizona’s economy booms.

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