A recap of this week’s top-five news items and resources from the intersection of business and government.
1. U.S. Congress approves boosting debt limit to $31.4 trillion, avoiding default
On Tuesday, the U.S. Congress approved raising the federal government’s debt limit by $2.5 trillion to about $31.4 trillion, sending the bill to President Biden and averting an unprecedented default. The deal struck earlier this week between party leaders will cover the government’s needs into 2023, allowing them to revisit the issue until after next year’s midterm elections. Next on their agenda is passing Biden’s $1.75 trillion social spending and climate package. But, with continued disagreements on the size and scope of the bill and the holiday break around the corner, it remains unclear if it will pass by the end of the year.
2. Child tax credit expiration adds pressure for Democrats
With the child tax credit ending at the end of the month, pressure for Democrats to push President Biden’s social spending and climate package across the finish line mounts. The package includes a one-year extension of the monthly child tax credit payments and must be passed by Dec. 28 for the IRS to make payments on Jan. 15. Democrats are committed to meeting this deadline, arguing a lapse in payments would be a step backward in reducing child poverty in America. Others argue Congress should wait before voting on the spending package, citing concerns about inflation.
3. Treasury awards $8.7 billion for small and minority owned business lending
The U.S. Treasury Department announced Tuesday the release of $8.7 billion to help increase lending to small and minority-owned businesses and people living in underserved communities with limited access to banking. In remarks at the Freedman’s Bank Forum, Vice President Kamala Harris and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen discussed the need for this investment to address the economic inequality faced by people living in predominantly Black communities. The funds coming from the Emergency Capital Investment Program will go to 186 community-based financial institutions headquartered in 36 states, ranging from more than $200 million for the largest institutions to less than $100,000 for smaller ones.
4. Anne Arundel County pilot program aims to help groups of small businesses improve infrastructure
Applications for the Small Business Infrastructure Improvement Pilot Program from Anne Arundel County opened on Monday, with the goal of helping for-profit businesses, nonprofit entities and other community organizations improve their infrastructure. Grants will go toward helping these organizations complete water, sewer and other kinds of infrastructure improvements to help them meet county code. To be considered for funding, the project must benefit multiple businesses and demonstrate community support for the investment.
5. Critics of Maryland’s congressional redistricting are promising lawsuits in an uphill battle
Critics of Maryland’s newly redrawn congressional maps have promised to file lawsuits to block the reconfigured electoral districts. But legal experts say there are very few options left to overturn the maps passed into law last week. Although Maryland law lays out several criteria for drawing districts for the General Assembly, it does not do the same for congressional redistricting, setting up an uphill battle for challengers.
2022 legislative session preview: MEET the STATE on Jan. 19
Join us as we help shape Maryland’s future business policy by bringing together legislators and business leaders to discuss critically important issues for the upcoming session and address some of the challenges being faced by the business community.
Our Leadership Panel brought to you by Platinum Sponsor UnitedHealthcare includes Senate President pro Tempore Melony Griffith, Senate Minority Leader Bryan Simonaire, House Speaker pro Tempore Sheree Sample-Hughes and House Minority Leader Jason Buckel.