On The Money — Biden faces soft deadlines, hard choices with agenda

Senate Democrats missed a milestone to get President Biden’s economic agenda through the Senate. We’ll also look at a steep drop in home sales and how the Federal Trade Commission is trying to get to the bottom of the formula shortage.

But first, read up on the ISIS plot to assassinate former President George W. Bush.

Welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. For The Hill, we’re Sylvan Lane, Aris Folley and Karl Evers-Hillstrom. Subscribe here.

Dems set to pass key date for moving Biden agenda

Democrats are set to blow through the soft Memorial Day deadline for reaching a deal with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on a slimmed-down budget reconciliation bill to raise taxes, fight climate change and lower the cost of prescription drugs. 

Senate Democratic sources say there’s no chance of getting a deal this week but they argue that doesn’t necessarily mean the negotiations over a long-awaited budget reconciliation package are doomed.Some optimistic Democratic aides note that neither Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) nor Manchin has identified the Memorial Day recess as a drop-dead deadline.

Instead, Democrats are once again pushing back the target date for getting a deal with Manchin. They now point to the start of the August recess as the new deadline, arguing that gives them most of August to draft legislation and the month of September to pass it on the floor. 

Such a timetable seems difficult, to say the least.

The Hill’s Alexander Bolton explains here.

VIRTUAL EVENT INVITE

Advancing America’s Economy — Wednesday, May 25 at 1 p.m. ET

The pandemic has challenged the economy with supply chain bottlenecks, labor shortages and inflation. As the Federal Reserve takes steps to slow inflation, what can manufacturers and consumers expect to see over the next year? Is the threat of recession real? The Hill’s Sylvan Lane talks with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), NEC deputy director David Kamin, Jason Furman and more. RSVP now.

HOUSING MARKET COOLS OFF

New home sales dropped 16 percent in April, hitting pre-pandemic pace

Sales of newly constructed homes plunged in April as rising interest rates and a historic surge in sale prices kept the housing market in a slowdown.

Sales of new single-family houses fell 16 percent to a seasonally adjusted yearly pace of 591,000 homes sold in April, down sharply from a revised rate of 709,000 homes sold in March.New home sales have fallen in five consecutive months and by more than 10 percent in both March and April.The median sale price for a new home also rose to $450,600, up from $435,000 in March, and the April average sale price jumped to $570,300 from $522,500 in March.

The bigger picture: The rise of teleworking and remote learning pushed more Americans to buy or upsize homes as ultra-low interest rates and a flood of fiscal stimulus fueled higher demand. Longstanding shortfalls in home construction and a reluctance among some owners to sell their homes kept up pressure on prices, leading to increases of nearly 20 percent nationwide.

The hot housing market, however, has begun to cool off as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates and American families feel the strain of rising prices across the economy. The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is roughly 5.4 percent this week, according to Bankrate.com, after lingering near 2 percent in the beginning of the year.

Sylvan has more here.

NEW INVESTIGATION

FTC opens inquiry into baby formula shortage

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced an inquiry Tuesday into the infant formula shortage and said it will assess the impact of mergers and acquisitions in the market.

The agency said it will investigate bots reselling formula at “exorbitant prices” and seek public comment on the factors that “contributed to the shortage or hampered our ability to respond to it.”

The shortage stems from the shutdown of an Abbott Nutrition factory in February due to safety concerns about certain formulas produced at the plant.The FTC said as part of the inquiry it will conduct an analysis of the shortage alongside the Department of Agriculture, which administers the government’s nutrition program for women, infants and children, and use the analysis to determine if policy changes are necessary to promote competition in the market.

The Hill’s Zach Schonfeld has more here.

Read more: Biden administration waiving limitations for truck drivers to speed baby formula production

LONG COVID

Employers are not accommodating people disabled by long COVID, activists tell House panel

Some people disabled by long COVID are struggling in the workplace, with employers refusing to make accommodations for the new condition, disability activists told a House committee on Tuesday.

During a hearing for the House Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion, witnesses detailed the challenges that disabled people continue to face in accessing financial services, equitable housing and work opportunities.

Some accommodations that would help long COVID sufferers would be allowing them to work from home, making schedules flexible, adjusting dress codes and allowing people the option to sit or stand during the workday for jobs such as cashiers.Symptoms of the condition are diverse and can range from mild to debilitating. Many people report breathing issues, persistent brain fog and fatigue.

The Hill’s Joseph Choi has more here.

Good to Know

The Hill released a new video detailing how inflation has impacted Americans over the course of five decades and eight different presidents.

Prices have been rising at the fastest rate in 40 years as consumer spending outpaces the supply of goods. Inflation has become a top issue for Republicans and Democrats alike heading into the 2022 midterms as high commodity prices place strain on working families.

Here’s what else we have our eye on:

Gas prices in the U.S. have spiked once again, reaching a national average of $4.59 per gallon on Tuesday, according to AAA.A group of activists staged a protest at Amazon Web Services’s (AWS) summit Tuesday in an attempt to bring attention to the company’s work with immigration agencies and police departments.A new report from Senate Homeland Security Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.) found that the federal government lacks sufficient data on the use of cryptocurrency in ransom payments.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow. 

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