Senate approves debt ceiling deal, Biden will address country tonight – National & International News – FRI 2Jun2023

Senate approves debt ceiling deal, Biden will address country tonight.

Despite downturn, US added 339,000 jobs in May.

China urges West to stop sending weapons, hold talks over Ukraine.



Senate approves debt ceiling deal, Biden will address country tonight

The Senate passed the debt ceiling deal last night in a 63-36 vote. Forty-six Democrats and independents and 17 Republicans voted in favor; 31 Republicans, four Democrats, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (an Independent who caucuses with Democrats) voted against it.

Although the bill received bipartisan support in both Houses, members of both parties also criticized the bill. Nevertheless, President Biden is declaring the bill’s passage “a big win for our economy and the American people”. Biden will be discussing the bill tonight in an address to the nation from the Oval Office. 

Student borrowers may have to resume payments

There are several provisions in the bill that will affect average citizens, including SNAP beneficiaries. While SNAP recipients aged 50-54 will face new work requirements, other groups will now be exempt from these requirements. These including young adults (18-24) aging out of the foster care system, veterans and homeless people.

Another group that could see some changes are people with federal student loan debt. While the deal does not cancel Biden’s student borrower forgiveness program as Republicans wanted, the bill will force loan repayments to restart for the first time since March 2020. It’s not clear yet when this would restart but it’s likely it won’t be until the end of summer. However, by then the Supreme Court will have ruled one way or another on the loan forgiveness program.

Biden’s program would have forgiven $10,000 in debt for most federal student loan recipients and $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. The program has faced fierce opposition from Republicans and conservative groups, who brought numerous legal challenges. The Supreme Court will issue a ruling on whether the program can go ahead by the end of this month.

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Despite downturn, US added 339,000 jobs in May

Inflation on consumer goods remains high despite huge interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has said one of the key barometers he’s watching to monitor progress in cooling inflation is the job market. Powell has said he sees increases in unemployment as inevitable in the fight against inflation.

However, despite forecasters predicting drops in new jobs month after month, the jobs market has remained fairly robust. Unemployment has risen only slightly from 3.4% to 3.7%. Some industries, including tech, are showing signs of retracting after pandemic hiring sprees. But overall, employers added a stunning 339,000 jobs last month.

The industries that saw the most growth are business services, health care and hospitality. What’s changed is that in most of these industries, workers are no longer able to demand the higher wages that were on the table last year. While hiring in some industries remains strong, rises in cost of living are pushing more people back into the workforce, driving down individual bargaining power for new hires.

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Chinese envoy urges West to stop sending weapons, hold talks over Ukraine

China’s envoy to Eurasia Li Hui has urged the US and Ukraine’s other Western allies to stop fueling the war in Ukraine by sending weapons. At this moment, several states are stepping up military aid to Ukraine ahead of an expected counteroffensive against Russian occupiers in Eastern Ukraine. This has included sending more sophisticated weaponry including tanks and fighter planes.

In Beijing today, Li said “If we really want to stop the war, save lives and achieve peace, we should stop sending weapons to the battlefield”. Instead, Li has called on the West to pressure Ukraine to sit down for talks to reach a settlement. This is part of a recent campaign by China, which included a tour of European capitals, to promote peace talks.

The US has so far provided about $37 billion in military aid to Ukraine. Other countries have increased their pledges of equipment as well in recent weeks. Li says that this makes a dangerous escalation in Ukraine inevitable, including the possibility that nuclear facilities could be threatened or damaged.

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