The End of Joe Biden’s Student Debt Prison May Be in Sight

Link: https://jacobinmag.com/2021/04/biden-student-debt-loan-forgiveness-bankruptcy

Excerpt:

Bankruptcy courts have not been friendly to student borrowers. That’s at least partly attributable to Biden. In 2005, “the senator from MBNA,” so named for his close relationship with the credit card company that was also his largest donor, was one of eighteen Senate Democrats who backed a successful Republican-led bankruptcy reform bill that stripped private student loans of bankruptcy protection amid an explosion of private loan debt.

“He is a zealous advocate on behalf of one of his biggest contributors — the financial services industry,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said of Biden at the time.

For his part, Biden argued the law was necessary to prevent abuse of the system by borrowers who could afford to repay some of their debt. He and other supporters of the bankruptcy bill claimed the legislation would enable private lenders to lower costs for people seeking credit. But both arguments were ultimately proven wrong — abuse was minimal, and interest rates in general did not go down. Instead, the law resulted in a system that leaves borrowers with few options for relief.

Author(s): Walker Bragman

Publication Date: 8 April 2021

Publication Site: Jacobin Magazine

Senators quiz insurers on climate-related underwriting

Link: https://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20210326/NEWS06/912340735/Senators-quiz-insurers-on-climate-related-underwriting

Additional link: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5b7c9307f79392b49031d551/t/605cf32f9d526442eb0bca0c/1616704303928/Senators%27+Letter+-+Chubb.pdf

Excerpt:

Democratic lawmakers have called on U.S. insurers including American International Group Inc., Berkshire Hathaway, Chubb Ltd., Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., MetLife Inc. and Travelers Cos. Inc. to explain how their fossil fuel underwriting policies align with their commitments to sustainability.

In a letter dated March 24, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, and Senators Jeffrey A. Merkley, D-Oregon, Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, request information on each insurer’s fossil fuel underwriting and investment policies.

“An increasing number of your competitors have stopped underwriting coal and other fossil fuel projects and/or restricted their investments in coal and certain dirty and environmentally damaging oil and gas projects such as tar sands,” the letter said.

Excerpt:

Author(s): Claire Wilkinson

Publication Date: 26 March 2021

Publication Site: Business Insurance

Durbin, Duckworth Announce Illinois Wins In COVID-19 Relief Bill

Link: https://www.durbin.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/durbin-duckworth-announce-illinois-wins-in-covid-19-relief-bill#new_tab

Excerpt:

U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today released the following statements after the Senate passed President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which will provide emergency relief to Illinois:

…..

To avoid dramatic budget cuts at every level of government:

Estimated $13.2 billion in state and local funding for Illinois including $1.8 billion for Chicago.

The bill provides an estimated $7.5 billion for the state and $5.5 billion for Illinois locals ($2.3 billion for counties; $2.4 billion for larger cities; $681 million for smaller municipalities).

…..

Multiemployer Pension Relief: 

By prolonging the solvency of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), more than 100,000 Illinoisans will have their hard-earned pension benefits preserved 

Author(s): Dick Durbin, Tammy Duckworth

Publication Date: 6 March 2021

Publication Site: Dick Durbin’s Senate Office

Senate Narrowly Passes $1.9 Trillion COVID Stimulus Bill

Link: https://www.nationalreview.com/news/senate-narrowly-passes-1-9-trillion-covid-stimulus-bill/

Excerpt:

The Senate voted 50-49 to pass Democrats’ $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Saturday, after a marathon session of voting on various amendments.

The bill was passed via budget reconciliation rules, which allow a simple majority to approve legislation in place of a filibuster-proof 60-vote threshold. The Biden administration had been pushing to pass the legislation before the week of March 14, when pandemic-related federal unemployment assistance is scheduled to expire.

The vote occurred entirely on partisan lines. Senator Dan Sullivan (R., Alaska) returned to his home state on Friday to attend the funeral of his father-in-law, meaning Vice President Kamala Harris did not need to cast a tie-breaking vote.

Author(s): ZACHARY EVANS

Publication Date: 6 March 2021

Publication Site: National Review

Senate passes $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill, including $1,400 stimulus checks, with no Republican support

Link: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/senate-passes-1-9-trillion-covid-relief-bill-including-1-n1259795

Excerpt:

The Senate passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Saturday, capping off a marathon overnight session after Democrats resolved internal clashes that threatened to derail President Joe Biden’s top legislative priority.

The far-reaching legislation includes $1,400 stimulus checks, $300-per-week jobless benefits through the summer, a child allowance of up to $3,600 for one year, $350 billion for state aid, $34 billion to expand Affordable Care Act subsidies and $14 billion for vaccine distribution.

The final vote was 50-49 along party lines, with every Republican voting “no.” It came after Democrats voted down a swath of Republican amendments on repeated votes of 50-49 to avoid disrupting the delicate agreement between progressive and moderate senators.

Author(s): Sahil Kapur

Publication Date: 6 March 2021

Publication Site: NBC News

Senate Rules-Keeper OKs Pension, Health Items: Stimulus Update

Link: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/senate-rules-keeper-oks-pension-014128087.html

Excerpt:

The Senate parliamentarian approved provisions in Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic-relief bill aiding multi-employer pensions and providing laid-off workers with health-care premium subsidies.

….

Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has found that provisions bailing out multi-employer pensions and providing laid-off workers with health-care premium subsidies are eligible for the simple-majority process Democrats are using to pass the pandemic-relief bill.

“This economic crisis has hit already struggling pension plans like a wrecking ball, and the retirement security of millions of American workers depends on getting this package across the finish line,” Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden said in a statement after his office said the parliamentarian made the two approvals.

Author(s): Bloomberg News

Publication Date: 1 March 2021

Publication Site: Yahoo Finance

Pension Crisis Is Challenge DOL Nominee Is Positioned to Handle

Link: https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labor-report/pension-crisis-is-challenge-dol-nominee-is-positioned-to-handle

Excerpt:

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has vowed to work with both parties as Labor Department secretary to address the hundreds of underfunded multiemployer pension plans in the U.S. that are now in danger of collapsing.

The big problem standing in his way? Congress has that power, not the U.S. Labor Department, according to labor attorneys and industry insiders. Which means that if Walsh is confirmed by the full Senate for the Cabinet spot, the two-term mayor will have to rely on his organized-labor background and a unique propensity to bridge divides and broker deals outside DOL’s scope to help rescue the tapped-out plans.

“The thing that is going to be pretty neat about going in to see Secretary Walsh is you’re not going to spend the first 20 minutes trying to explain what the heck a multiemployer pension plan is,” said Timothy Lynch, a senior director at Morgan Lewis in Washington who testified in 2018 before the now-defunct Joint Select Committee on the Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans.

Author(s): Austin R. Ramsey

Publication Date: 1 March 2021

Publication Site: Bloomberg Law

Mortality with Meep: On The Congressional Body of Old Folks and Deaths in Office

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/mortality-with-meep-on-the-congressional

Graph:

Excerpt:

The next fact should tickle the interest of one of my friends who likes to keep stoopid stats (his term) about all sorts of things: with the death of John McCain, every state except Utah has had a senator die while in office.

Isn’t that exciting?

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 8 February 2021

Publication Site: STUMP