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People wait in line at a food distribution site in a Brooklyn neighborhood. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Nearly 8 million Americans have slid into poverty since May, according to a Columbia University study reported by the New York Times.

Why it matters: The researchers found that the monthly poverty rate for September was higher than rates during April or May, and it also topped pre-crisis levels, "[d]ue to the expiration of the CARES Act’s stimulus checks and $600 per week supplement to unemployment benefits."

  • The finding comes as it appears unlikely that a deal will be reached on fresh stimulus aid before November's election.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday said he would not put a potential $1.8 trillion+ deal struck by Democrats and the Trump administration on the Senate floor, saying the number is “a much larger amount than I can sell to my members."

What they found: "The monthly poverty rate increased from 15% to 16.7% from February to September 2020, even after taking the CARES Act’s income transfers into account," the Columbia University researchers wrote.

  • "Increases in monthly poverty rates have been particularly acute for Black and Hispanic individuals, as well as for children," they added.
  • "In April and May, the CARES Act was successful in offsetting potential increases in monthly poverty, but was not successful at preventing a rise in deep poverty, defined as having monthly income lower than half the monthly poverty threshold."
  • "The CARES Act’s stimulus checks and unemployment benefits lifted more than 18 million individuals out of monthly poverty in April, but this number fell to around 4 million individuals in August and September after the expiration of the $600 per week unemployment supplement."
  • “The Cares Act was unusually successful, but now it’s gone, and a lot more people are poor,” Zachary Parolin, an author of the Columbia study, told the Times.

Worth noting: A separate study by researchers at Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, found that 6 million people have slipped into poverty in the last three months, per the Times.

  • "Significantly, the studies differ on the most recent month: While the Columbia model shows an improvement in September, the Chicago and Notre Dame analysts found poverty continued to grow," the Times wrote.
  • "These numbers are very concerning," Bruce Meyer, an economist at the University of Chicago and an author of the study, told the Times. "They tell us people are having a lot more trouble paying their bills, paying their rent, putting food on the table."

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Photo: Axios screenshot

José Andrés, the founder of World Central Kitchen and celebrated chef, said during an Axios event that survival of restaurants is a crucial part of the U.S. economic recovery as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the industry.

Why it matters: The hospitality industry has faced an existential crisis since the beginning of the pandemic. "With new rounds of state-mandated restaurant and bar restrictions, and winter weather limiting outdoor dining, food services accounted for 372,000 job losses in December," the Washington Post writes.

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.