1/ House Democrats elected Hakeem Jeffries to lead their caucus – the first Black person to lead a major political party in Congress. Jeffries succeeds Nancy Pelosi, who has led the Democrats for two decades and announced earlier this month that she would remain in Congress, but not run for the leadership post. Also elected to lead House Democrats in the next session of Congress include Katherine Clark as whip, and Pete Aguilar as the chairman of the party caucus, in charge of messaging. (NPR / Associated Press / New York Times)
2/ The House voted to force a labor contract between rail workers and rail companies, which tens of thousands of union workers had voted down because it didn’t include paid sick leave, which they currently don’t receive. In addition to the bill to codify the tentative contract agreement reached earlier this year, the House voted to add seven paid sick days to the contract. The Senate, however, still needs to consider both of the bills, making it possible that the labor contract could be imposed without the sick leave addition. Without congressional action or an agreement between unions and rail companies, a nationwide freight rail strike could begin as early as December 9, which would cost the U.S. an estimated $2 billion per day. (NPR / Associated Press / Politico / New York Times / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)
3/ Jerome Powell indicated that the Federal Reserve could begin to slow its interest rate increases, but will probably keep borrowing costs higher for longer than previously expected. The Fed has lifted interest rates from near-zero to a range of 3.75 to 4% since March. At each of its last four meetings alone, the central bank has increased rates by an unprecedented 0.75 basis-points aimed at combating high inflation – its the most aggressive action since the 1980s. The Fed is on track to raise interest rates by a half percentage point at its December meeting, and markets now expect rates to eclipse 5% next year. “It is likely that restoring price stability will require holding policy at a restrictive level for some time,” Powell said. “History cautions strongly against prematurely loosening policy. We will stay the course until the job is done.” (Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / New York Times / CNN)
4/ The age of first-time homebuyers in the U.S. is getting older as prices rise, mortgage rates increase, and inventory decreases. First-time buyers made up 26% of the market from July 2021 to June 2022, down from 34% last year – the lowest share of first-time buyers since the data collection began. The median age of home buyers in the U.S. is now 53 – the highest on record. While millennials saw the largest increases in homeownership between 2019 and 2021 due to pandemic relief and historically low mortgage rates, 27% of millennials lived in a home they owned at age 25-34, compared with 40% or more for previous generations. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage, meanwhile, has more than doubled in the past year. Mortgage rates, however, have dropped slightly for a third straight week after topping 7% last month. (Washington Post / The Hill / CNBC)
5/ NASA canceled a planned satellite to monitor greenhouse gas emissions in Earth’s atmosphere because the project got too costly. The Geostationary Carbon Observatory mission was supposed to be a low-cost satellite to monitor carbon dioxide and methane over North and South America with a price tag around $166 million. NASA, however, estimates that the mission will now cost more than $600 million, which would “have a detrimental impact on NASA’s Earth Science portfolio.” (Associated Press / NASA)
6/ Lawmakers plan to add $45 billion to the defense budget. The Senate and House Armed Services committees have reportedly come to a “compromise” to set the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act budget at $847 billion. Last year, Biden asked for $753 billion but was granted an NDAA worth about $778 billion. If Congress moves ahead with the increase, it would be the second year in a row that lawmakers have endorsed a national defense budget that is tens of billions more than Biden requested. Last year, Biden asked for about $744 billion but was given about $768 billion – $24 billion more than he had requested. (Politico)
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