Jul 9, 2017

Scoop: Freedom Caucus plan for the debt ceiling

Alex Brandon / AP

One conservative group that will announce a set of demands for the debt ceiling is the House Freedom Caucus. Sources tell me Mark Meadows and his group of some 40 members will call on Republican leadership to pass a bill in July to deal with the debt ceiling and avoid a last-minute stand-off in October.

Our thought bubble: Democrats are very unlikely to support the Freedom Caucus' first plan, meaning there's no path to 60 votes in the Senate. Also, a number of Treasury officials, past and present, believe asset sales are not a viable way to avoid or delay raising the debt limit. As for the other more aggressive options, a source familiar with House leadership's thinking told me such approaches are unrealistic and "typical of the Freedom Caucus."

The Freedom Caucus will offer three options:

  1. The Lite (non-spending cut) option: a bill to change how the government pays its obligations so that there'd be no default, and more of the government can remain open in future fights over spending. The proposal would raise the debt ceiling by about $1.5 trillion. It would also restrict how much money the government can spend in the lead-up to the debt ceiling, and would direct the government to sell financial assets to pay down the debt. It would also, controversially, let the administration take back money agencies haven't spent, and use that money to pay down debt.
  2. The Budget option: If leadership rejects option 1, the Freedom Caucus will likely demand that they attach the debt ceiling hike to a 2018 Budget bill, in exchange for at least $250 billion in cuts to mandatory spending. "Which would certainly making budget negotiations much more difficult," a Freedom Caucus source adds.
  3. The health care option: try to attach the debt ceiling rise to a repeal-only health care bill. (This approach relies on the extremely unlikely scenario that Senate leader Mitch McConnell separates repeal and replace into two bills.)

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In photos: How the coronavirus outbreak is impacting on daily lives

New York City's once-bustling Times Square. Photo: Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus pandemic is having a huge impact on the lives of people around the world.

The big picture: The first known case outside China was in Thailand on Jan. 13. Since then, global infection numbers have surged, and governments around the world have responded with measures designed to curb the spread of the virus — ranging from lockdowns to physical distancing enforcement. There were more than 723,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections by early Monday, per Johns Hopkins data). However, life hasn’t stopped because of the pandemic, but it has changed. Here's how.

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World coronavirus updates: Global death toll surpasses 34,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 34,000 people and infected over 723,000 others globally, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy reported more than 10,700 deaths early Monday.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30,

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 722,435 — Total deaths: 33,997 — Total recoveries: 151,991.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m.. ET: 142,502 — Total deaths: 2,506 — Total recoveries: 4,856.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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