Day 618: "A work in progress."
1/ The Education Department scaled back eligibility for its student loan forgiveness plan after six Republican-led states sued to stop Biden from canceling up to $20,000 in student debt for millions of borrowers. The lawsuit filed in a federal court in Missouri by state attorneys general from Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Carolina, as well as legal representatives from Iowa argue that student loan servicers would see a drop in revenue because borrowers are likely to consolidate their loans under the Federal Family Education Loan program – FFEL are loans that were originally made by private lenders but are guaranteed by the federal government. In response, the Biden administration said it would exclude FFEL from the loan forgiveness program. The move disqualifies roughly 2 million of the 44 million otherwise eligible borrowers. (Politico / Washington Post / Associated Press / NPR / CNN)
2/ The Senate approved a temporary spending package to avert a partial government shutdown. The stopgap funding bill extends government funding through Dec. 16. The House is expected to quickly pass the measure and send it to Biden for his signature before funding lapses Friday night. The legislation includes $12.4 billion in assistance for Ukraine, but does not include money for coronavirus or monkeypox vaccines, testing, and treatment. (Associated Press / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg)
3/ Mortgage rates surged to the highest level since 2007 with the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage climbing to 6.7%. It was the sixth week in a row of rising rates. A year ago, rates were 3.01%. Applications to refinance a home loan, meanwhile, have declined to a 22-year low. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC)
4/ Biden warned that Hurricane Ian may have been responsible for “substantial loss of life” and approved a major disaster declaration for Florida in what could be the deadliest storm in the state’s history. “We’ve never seen a flood event like this,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said, calling it a one-in-500-year flood event that has brought “historic” damage to the state. The National Hurricane Center said Ian brought “catastrophic flooding” over Florida’s east and central regions. More than 2.5 million customers across Florida were without power Thursday morning. Although Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm after making landfall in Florida’s southwest coast as a Category 4 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said Ian has intensified into a hurricane again after moving over the Atlantic Ocean. It projected to make a new landfall in South Carolina on Friday. Ian is “taking aim at the Carolinas and Georgia with life-threatening flooding, storm surge and strong winds,” the center said. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / CNN / Axios)
5/ Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, testified before the Jan. 6 committee for about four and a half hours. Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said Thomas answered “some questions” in her interview, including reiterating her belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. “It’s a work in progress,” Thompson said. “At this point, we’re glad she came.” Thomas repeatedly pressed White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to find ways to overturn the election, attended the rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, and emailed with John Eastman, the architect of the campaign to push Pence to reject the 2020 election results during the counting of Electoral College votes. Thomas has also repeatedly claimed her political activities posed no conflict of interest with the work of her husband, who was the lone justice to dissent when the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s effort to block the release of his White House records to the Jan. 6 committee. (NBC News / NPR / CNN / Associated Press)
poll/ 47% of Americans say they trust the Supreme Court and the judicial branch – a 20-percentage-point drop from two years ago. 40% of Americans approve of the way the Supreme Court is handling its job – a record-tying-low. (Gallup)
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