Axios D.C.

Picture of the D.C. skyline.

October 12, 2023

Good morning. It's what we like to call Friday eve.

⛅️ Today's weather: Mostly sunny. High of 74°.

🎂 Happy birthday to our Axios D.C. member Leah Chavla!

Today's newsletter is 876 words, a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Student loan payments are back

Outstanding student loan debt in D.C.
Data: U.S. Department of Education. Table: Axios Visuals

D.C. residents owe nearly $6.5 billion in federal student loans as payments resume this month.

Why it matters: After a more than three-year break, experts warn the return to debt repayment could get messy, and especially squeeze younger borrowers, writes Axios' Kelly Tyko.

By the numbers: D.C. has about 119,000 federal student loan borrowers, the latest data from June shows.

Catch up fast: In July, President Biden announced that some borrowers who have been paying for decades — including 2,230 in D.C. — would have their debt forgiven.

Be smart: Most borrowers will need to opt-in to auto-debit payments before they restart.

Between the lines: There's a 12-month "on ramp" for loan repayments, meaning borrowers who miss payments won't be reported to credit bureaus, placed in default, or referred to debt collection agencies.

  • The on-ramp transition period started on October 1st and runs to September 30th of next year. Borrowers don't have to sign up, according to a White House fact sheet.
  • It goes into effect automatically with a missed payment.
  • Interest will accrue during the period.

Plus: Borrowers can sign up for a new income-driven repayment plan, the SAVE plan, which is estimated to save the typical borrower about $1,000 a year, per the White House.

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2. 👻 Mark it: Zoo Halloween

A trick or treater walks inside the National Zoo past a table

The tradition is back. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

One of Washington's wildest Halloween parties is back: Boo at the Zoo.

🎃 What's happening: The National Zoo's family-friendly festivities run nightly Oct. 20-22 from 6pm to 8:30pm.

  • During the special after-hours access, guests can trick-or-treat between 30 stations and check out animal habitats decorated in spooky decor.
  • The zoo's party animals are ready for fun too with special holiday treats. Humans will walk away with souvenir tote bags.

Details: You'll want to snag online tickets ASAP (starting at $35 for the general public). Parking passes ($30) are available as well.

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3. Around the Beltway: 🔎 Is it ... art?

Illustration of the Hahn/Cock statue holding a cellphone.

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty Images

🦸 A mystery artist carpeted a downtown sidewalk with a mosaic of flattened sweatshirts, jackets, and parkas. The neatly arranged installation led people to speculate it was a work of art ... but no one knew for sure.

  • Construction workers nearby — outside the National Museum of Women in the Arts — called the artist "Mike." (Washington Post)

🕯️ Mourners grieved for the more than 1,200 Israelis and 1,100 Palestinians who have died following Hamas' attack last weekend. The Kaddish, a Jewish prayer in memory of the dead, was recited at Meridian Hill Park. A packed vigil that included Mayor Bowser was held at Adas Israel Congregation in Cleveland Park.

🤖 Booz Allen Hamilton aims to bring AI to government offices. It launched a new set of AI capabilities focused on federal military and civilian clients, aiming for $500 million to $700 million in contracts in fiscal year 2024, per data exclusively shared with us. (Axios)

4. Uber launches new shipping and returns feature

Illustration of a dolly full of boxes moving quickly

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Uber has a new way to return unwanted purchases — just as the holiday shopping season is getting started.

Driving the news: With the new service, consumers can use the Uber or Uber Eats app to skip the trip to UPS, FedEx, or the post office to drop off returns, writes Axios' Kelly Tyko.

  • The "Return a Package" feature is available in D.C. and nearly 5,000 cities nationwide, Uber recently announced.
  • It can also be used to drop off prepaid packages other than returns, including holiday gifts.

📲 How it works: To start the process, tap the package icon or look for "Return a package" in the settings section of the Uber Eats app.

Between the lines: There is a $5 flat fee for returning up to five packages. It costs $3 for Uber One members, who pay $9.99 a month.

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On the job hunt?

💼 Check out who's hiring on our Job Board.

  1. Medicaid Policy Analyst at Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission.
  2. Temporary Staff- Political & Public Affairs at PoliTemps.
  3. Associate Director, Just & Inclusive Society at Democracy Fund.
  4. Events Director at The Brand Guild.
  5. Policy Analyst, Elections Project at Bipartisan Policy Center.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Use code FIRST50 for $50 off your first job post.

5. 💳 The time Tom Sietsema was found

Tom Sietsema poses with a print newspaper box over his head to shield his identity

Sietsema goes to great lengths to shield his identity. Photo: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Everyone hates losing things when going out, but have you ever lost your child?

  • At Rasika, one family of diners paid and left — sans their young kiddo, still hanging out by the table, recalls general manager Santosh Bodke to the Washington Post.

The tale made Post food critic Tom Sietsema's much-talked-about story of all the things diners lose at restaurants. Things like:

  • Unclaimed cellphones at Old Ebbitt Grill donated to charity.
  • A "man bag with a passport, $14,000 and a gun," at a Miami Beach crab joint.
  • Very elite black AmEx cards at a Wolfgang Puck spot in Beverly Hills.

🤔 We naturally wondered: Tom, what's your lost and found story?

  • Sietsema, who famously goes incognito to evade detection as a reviewer, didn't disappoint:
"Years ago, at a restaurant on Capitol Hill, I left my credit card, with a name other than my own, on the table. I was about a block outside the restaurant when a manager came running behind me. "Nick! Nick!" he called out. When I didn't look back, he shouted, "Mr. Sietsema! Mr. Sietsema!" It was both a gotcha moment and a relief, because how could I go back to the restaurant later and ask for my credit card without showing ID?"

🧣 Cuneyt is buying winter sweaters.

🌴 Anna is OOO.

Today's newsletter was edited by Alexa Mencia and copy edited by Patricia Guadalupe.