Good morning from Washington D.C. where the debt ceiling fight looms large. Last week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that the Federal Reserve could exhaust all “special measures” by June, adding an increased sense of urgency to the issue for lawmakers and the markets.
Here are a few possible scenarios for how the next month plays out:
President Biden and Speaker McCarthy Make a Deal
- A deal between Biden and McCarthy would be the most positive scenario in the short term by heading off a potential default. However, any deal on the debt ceiling would likely need to be revised in a year or two which could put the next negotiations in an election year.
End Around in Congress
- Using an arcane parliamentary maneuver called a “discharge petition,” members could bring a debt ceiling bill to the floor for a vote without McCarthy’s approval and try to string together a 218 member coalition without the help of leadership. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, a Democratic member of Congress introduced a bill in January to create a legislative avenue for an end around, but this remains unlikely.
- If the White House and Congressional leadership do not feel confident about getting a deal done by Yellen’s “X date,” they could pass a bill to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling for a fixed period of time while negotiations continue—perhaps lining up debt ceiling negotiations with budget negotiations due by the first of October.
- The White House could, in theory, order the U.S. Mint to create a coin or paper bill worth $1 trillion and deposit it with the Federal Reserve. That would however exacerbate current inflation and it is not clear if the Federal Reserve would even recognize such a move.
- If no deal is reached, the Government will run out of money to pay its bills and the U.S. will default for the first time in history. Interest rates would spike, rating agencies would downgrade U.S. debt, parts or all of the federal government would shut down, and there would be severe service disruptions.
Some legal experts have suggested the debt ceiling is unconstitutional and should simply be ignored by the White House altogether. The theory stems from the clause in the 14th Amendment that states “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” No administration has challenged the validity of the debt ceiling and any such move by Biden would almost certainly result in prolonged legal challenges.
Instead, President Biden has insisted Republicans pass a clean debt ceiling increase as they did during the Trump Administration, but that is not going to happen and as a potential default creeps closer, the White House is reportedly preparing to make a deal with McCarthy. Any deal on the debt ceiling will likely come with preconditions for the upcoming federal budget process. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “We’ve been very clear on what we will negotiate about, which is appropriations and the budget. But we just are going to be very clear that they must act and do their constitutional duty on this.”
If the two sides are going to come together on a deal, they better hurry. Assuming June 1st is the day of default, President Biden and Congressional Leadership will be in D.C. at the same time for less than 7 days before then!
In New York… the FY 2023-2024 budget is DONE. After being delayed for just over one month, the final budget and its roll out was somewhat anticlimactic. Citizens Budget Commission President Andrew Rein offered in a statement, “One thing is clear: this budget was not worth the wait.”
The ban on fossil fuel hookups—AKA the all-electric building measure—for new residential buildings starting in 2026 is getting plenty of attention. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said of the plan, “Changing the ways we make and use energy to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels will help ensure a healthier environment for us and our children, the provisions in this budget will help us do that and meet the ambitious climate goals we set in the CLCPA.” The plan does include exemptions for “critical infrastructure” and areas where the power grid cannot handle the increased capacity.
While the gas-ban hookup was a win for the progressive wing of the party, they have been critical of Governor Hochul’s changes to the State’s bail laws. Assemblymember Latrice Walker, who voted no on the budget over bail concerns said, “It’s jaw-dropping to hear our Democratic governor openly admit that tabloid headlines are driving her criminal justice policies.” If you ask Republicans, the changes to bail did not go far enough. Former Erie County Sheriff and current Republican Senator Patrick Gallivan offered, “I don’t think that there’s any substantive change” while Senator George Borello offered, “Ninety percent of crimes are still not eligible for bail. Judges still do not have the discretion they need to hold dangerous individuals, despite rewording of the ‘least restrictive’ standard.”
With exactly six weeks left in the legislative session, lawmakers will be looking to address priorities that were ultimately left out of the budget. For Governor Hochul, the clear priority is housing. Hochul was bearish on the idea that anything of substance can come together before the end of the legislative session but said, “We’re going to start talking about housing again.”
Despite getting the budget over the finish line, Hochul faced criticism this week regarding her (now former) advisor, Adam Sullivan. The New York Times first reported Hochul’s connections to Sullivan, who lives full time in Colorado and has been with Hochul since her days in the House of Representatives. Subsequent reporting on his inappropriate and borderline abusive treatment of staffers led to his resignation last week. In a statement, Sullivan said, “After some serious thinking, I think it best if I take some time away from politics and the campaign environment and get healthy.” Not good.
The tragic death of Jordan Neely on the NYC subway has turned into a political litmus test— with the left insisting Neely was murdered and the right pointing to self-defense and public safety. The episode has reignited the debate around the need for increased mental and behavioral health services for New York’s homeless population. After originally taking the middle ground, Hochul later came out and said, “No one has the right to take the life of another person. This was an unarmed individual who had been on the subway many times, known by many of the regular travelers. And you know, sometimes people have an episode where they’re displaying their feelings in a loud and emotional way, but it became very clear that, you know, he was not going to cause harm to these other people.” More to come here.
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New to the NYS Legislature
Assembly Member Matt Slater was elected to represent the 94th Assembly District–which includes parts of Putnam and Westchester counties, including the towns of Kent, Patterson, Putnam Valley, Carmel, Southeast, Somers, and Yorktown, as well as the village of Brewster–in November. The seat was previously held by Kevin Byrne, who is now Putnam County Executive.
Assembly Member Slater was born and raised in Yorktown in Northern Westchester County. He is a graduate of Yorktown High School and was first elected Supervisor of the Town of Yorktown in 2019 and reelected in 2021.
As Town Supervisor, Assembly Member Slater balanced Yorktown’s budget through spending cuts and economic growth and cut town taxes for the first time in three decades – even cutting town taxes two out of three years as town supervisor. Slater’s economic development plan was hailed as a model for the rest of the state by the Business Council of Westchester County.
Prior to his election as Yorktown Town Supervisor, Assembly Member Slater served as Chief of Staff to former state Senator Terrence Murphy for four years. In that role, he partnered with Senator Murphy to enact dozens of local and statewide laws. He secured millions of dollars in state funding for area projects and led local relief efforts for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Maria.
While serving in the Legislature, Assembly Member Slater’s priorities include fighting the state’s opioid epidemic, promoting economic development, and reforming criminal justice policies.
As an active-duty reservist, Assembly Member Slater received a direct commission from the United States Naval Reserves as an officer and currently serves in the Expedition Cargo Handling Battalion.
Assembly Member Slater currently resides in Yorktown with his wife and two children.
Zoo Seeks ‘Outgoing’ Worker to Wear Big Bird Costume and Scare Seagulls
If you’re friendly, energetic and up for a challenge, a zoo in a popular British seaside town may have the perfect role for you: chasing away seagulls while wearing a giant bird suit. The successful candidates will be paid to wear an eagle costume and act as a “seagull deterrent” to prevent the birds from harassing guests and animals alike at Blackpool Zoo in northwest England. [Read more.]
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