Inflation Slows, but Americans Still Feel It

Inflation has slowed from its rapid growth in the past two years, but surveys show Americans are still feeling the pain from the jump in prices.

Gallup released new polling data Tuesday showing that 55% of those surveyed say inflation is causing financial hardship for their household. Notably, 13% of Americans say inflation has caused their families “severe hardship.”

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Biden Says He Has More Important Things to Do than Visit the U.S.-Mexico Border

President Joe Biden visited Arizona on Tuesday but did not visit the U.S.-Mexico border. He visited the state to tour a Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. facility in the process of being constructed in Phoenix, Arizona. 

When a reporter asked Biden why he would come to Arizona and not visit the border, the president said visiting the border is not a priority. 

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Credit Rating Agency Warns Recession Could Trigger Property Tax Hikes

Fitch Ratings said Friday that the outlook for state and local governments was “deteriorating” and an expected recession could put pressure on state and local governments to raise property taxes.

“Local governments may face slowed growth or possibly contraction in tax revenues associated with real property valuations, which may trigger expenditure controls or revenue-raising measures to preserve budgetary stability,” Fitch Ratings Senior Director Michael Rinaldi said.

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Wyoming Governor Sues Biden Administration over Oil and Gas Contract Cancellations

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon is again taking the Department of Interior to court. The governor has filed a second federal lawsuit against the department relating to a Bureau of Land Management decision to pause oil and gas lease sales. In a statement, the governor called the litigation timely and vital to the interests of people living in his state. 

“Wyoming’s energy resources can help power the nation and bring down costs at the pump,” said the governor. “BLM’s decision to cancel lease sales sure seems to be a violation of both the letter and the spirit of the law, (and) I firmly believe the pause in lease sales was politically driven and not based in law or fact.”

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Biden Signs Rail Deal to Avert ‘Catastrophe’

President Joe Biden signed a bill forcing a deal between several rail companies and a dozen rail unions to avert a Dec. 9 strike.

“With the signing of the Railway Labor Agreement, we not only spared this country a catastrophe,” Biden said after the signing. “We ensured rail workers will get a historic 24% wage increase, better conditions, and a cap on health care costs. And I won’t stop fighting for paid sick leave for all workers.”

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Data Analytics Company to Create 150 Jobs in Arlington

A cost engineering and data analytics company is investing $1.7 million to expand by adding 150 new jobs in Arlington, Virginia and will receive state-funded assistance for job training and recruitment.

Technomics, Inc, which is based in the Crystal City neighborhood in Arlington, will lease another 10,000 square feet of office space to expand. The company is employee-owned and has more than 220 employees. According to the governor’s office, the company began with cost estimating and analysis, but has grown to provide additional analytic services.

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U.S. Senate Joins House in Enacting Rail Contracts to Avert Strike

The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed legislation to avert a nationwide railroad workers’ strike, but an Illinois congressman says the government should not be negotiating private sector labor deals.  

The legislation, which was approved by the U.S. House on Wednesday, enacts new contracts providing railroad workers with 24% pay increases over five years, immediate payouts averaging $11,000, and an extra day off.  

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U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Colorado Case Pitting Speech Rights Against Minority Groups’ Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments starting next week in what could be a landmark case centered on a Colorado small business owner’s free speech rights.

Lorie Smith, owner of graphic design company 303 Creative in Littleton, Colo., is challenging the state’s public-accommodation law, which she argues is compelling her speech. Smith wishes to create wedding websites only for straight couples, citing her religious beliefs.

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House Democrat Blasts Biden over ‘Fancy Dinner’ that Includes Maine Lobster

A U.S. House Democrat blasted President Joe Biden for his planned ritzy dinner with France’s leader Emmanuel Macron.

Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, called out Biden on Twitter, suggesting the president is a hypocrite for crushing the lobster industry with strict regulations while purchasing 200 lobsters from Maine for the state dinner with Macron.

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2A Groups Caution Against Gun Control Measures in Virginia after Shootings

After three football players were killed in a shooting at the University of Virginia and six people were killed in a shooting at a Walmart in Chesapeake, gun groups are cautioning against efforts to impose stricter gun control measures.

On November 13, three UVA football players were killed after a man allegedly opened fire in a bus after returning to the university from a class trip. A little more than a week later, six people were killed in a Walmart in Chesapeake after a man allegedly opened fire because of grievances against some Walmart employees.

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U.S. Senate to Vote on ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ as Several Groups Question its Constitutionality

Several groups argue the Respect for Marriage Act (ROMA) currently before the U.S. Senate is unconstitutional, and if enacted, will eventually be struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The bill, HR 8404, was introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-NY, on July 18 and passed by a vote of 267-157 the next day. The U.S. Senate took it up on November 14.

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Report: 41 Percent of Small Businesses Can’t Pay Rent in November

More than 40% of U.S. small business owners say they couldn’t pay rent on time or in full for the month of November, the highest this year.

The small business network group Alignable released the survey, which found that the hardship varies by industry. A notable 57% of beauty salons said they couldn’t make rent as well as 45% of gyms, 44% of retail and 44% of restaurants.

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Virginia Companies, Research Universities Get $1.5 Million in Tech Grants

Rotunda at University of Virginia

Virginia companies and research universities will receive more than $1.5 million to fund 24 technology-related projects in the commonwealth.

The technology funding will be awarded through the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation’s Commonwealth Commercialization Fund. The program was launched in 2020 to promote technologies that could yield more economic development and job creation in the state, according to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office.

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Farmers Can Expect High Interest Rates and Higher Costs Next Year

Farmers borrow short term money up front every year to pay for inputs and operating expenses. At harvest time when they sell their crops, they pay back their operating notes.

For the first time in 20 years, fast-rising interest rates have doubled the cost of short term operating notes, an impact a lot of farmers have never seen before.

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Survey: Virginia Job Openings Increased by 40,000 in September

man in yellow hardhat and work jacket

The number of job openings in Virginia increased by 40,000 in September, according to the recently released Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job openings increased from 317,000 in August to 357,000 in September. In addition to job openings, the number of hires also went up. According to the Virginia Employment Commission, there was one unemployed person for every three job openings in the commonwealth.

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Higher Prices Hit the Holiday Season as Black Friday Approaches

Americans will pay higher prices for a range of goods and services for the Thanksgiving holiday and Black Friday shopping this year, and it looks like things may only get worse as we draw nearer to Christmas.

Those driving for the holidays and of course those preparing the Thanksgiving meal will pay the price this year. Federal inflation data from the Commerce Department shows energy costs have risen 17.6% in the past year, and overall food costs increased 10.9% in the same time.

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San Francisco Launches Guaranteed Income Program for Transgender Community

San Francisco city officials announced Wednesday they would launch a new guaranteed income program for the city’s transgender community.

The program, dubbed the Guaranteed Income for Trans People (GIFT), will provide 55, low-income transgender city residents with $1,200 each month for up to 18 months. The pilot program is the first of its kind for trans individuals in the city, though San Francisco has launched several other programs in recent years.

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Texas Group Sues Biden Administration over Climate Agenda

The Texas Public Policy Foundation filed lawsuits against three federal agencies accusing them of failing to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests about their involvement with implementing the Biden administration’s climate policies in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden accepted the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement on behalf of the United States. He later announced his administration would set a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) number, pledging an “economywide target of reducing America’s net greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52 percent.”

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Abbott Expanding Operation Lone Star in Effort to Secure Southern Border

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is expanding Operation Lone Star in an effort to further secure the state’s southern border with Mexico.

Abbott, who has been critical of President Joe Biden’s open border policies, sent a letter to Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw and Texas Military Department Adjutant General Thomas Suelzer in which he said, “Until Congress acts or the Biden Administration does its constitutionally required job, Texas Guardsmen and Troopers must bear the burden of securing the border.”

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Biden Pulls Back on Pledge to Codify Roe v. Wade

President Joe Biden raised eyebrows Monday telling reporters that he expects no progress on the abortion issue in the second half of his term.

“I don’t think they can expect much of anything other than we’re going to maintain our positions,” Biden said when asked by a reporter what Congress would do on abortion following the midterms. “I’m not going to get into more questions. I shouldn’t even answer your question.”

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Texas AG Paxton Investigating Zuckerberg-Funded Nonprofit for Alleged Partisan Electioneering Efforts in 2020

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a Civil Investigative Demand to the Center for Tech and Civil Life (CTCL) as part of an investigation his office launched to determine whether it “solicited donations under the pretext of protecting voters from Covid-19 while instead using the funds to support partisan electioneering efforts or election oversight roles normally left to state and local officials.”

CTCL, a self-described non-partisan nonprofit organization, according to the bios posted on its own website and other records, “is led by individuals with distinctly partisan backgrounds,” the AG’s office says. CTCL’s founder and executive director, for example, Tiana Epps-Johnson, was among a group of inaugural Obama Foundation Fellows who previously was the Election Administration director for a progressive grassroots organization, the New Organizing Institute. She also worked on the Voting Rights Project for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.

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Pending SCOTUS Affirmative Action Ruling Could Affect Virginia College Admissions

As the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to rule on the constitutionality of certain affirmative action policies in college and university admissions, a change to current precedent could affect admissions in Virginia.

Current Supreme Court precedent allows higher education institutions to give some weight to an applicant’s race, but that consideration cannot be the determinative factor in the student’s admission or non-admission. Although the commonwealth’s colleges and universities abide by this standard, many analysts expect that the Court, which now has a 6-3 conservative majority, could overturn or scale back that affirmative action precedent.

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IG Reports ‘Historic’ COVID Unemployment Funds Lost, Congress Investigates

Reports indicate as much as $400 billion in COVID-19 unemployment relief were likely lost to waste and fraudsters. Lawmakers want answers.

Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor demanding documents and information related to the unemployment fraud.

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Economics Professor: Interest Rates Likely Will Continue to Rise into 2023, Lead to Job Losses

While high rates of inflation have hit the entire nation hard, some regions have experienced it more intensely.

WalletHub reported Thursday that the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI, metropolitan statistical area has experienced the 16th highest rise in inflation, based on two Consumer Price Index metrics: latest month versus two months prior and latest month versus one year ago. The metrics received equal weight in the report.

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Planned Parenthood Revenue Trending Up as Taxpayer Funding Increases

Planned Parenthood’s revenues increased 16% nationwide over the past four years as private contributions and government reimbursements and grants have risen.

The reproductive care organization’s total revenues increased from $1.46 billion in 2016-17 to $1.71 billion in 2020-21, according to its annual report that was recently released.

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King County Court in Washington Blocks Albertsons $4B Dividend Payment

King County Superior Court Commissioner Henry Judson approved a motion granting a temporary restraining order blocking Albertsons from making a $4 billion dividend payment to investors as part of a planned nearly $25 billion merger with the Kroger Company.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued on Tuesday to stop the payment – which was scheduled for Nov. 7 – while Albertsons’ merger with Kroger is under review. In the lawsuit, Ferguson claims the payout could jeopardize the grocery giant’s ability to do business and imperil jobs.

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Feds Pay Nearly $1.2 Million to Study If Racism Causes Poor Sleep

The National Institutes of Health has issued more than a million dollars via taxpayer-funded medical research grants to find evidence that racism is to blame for poor sleep in minority communities.

The funding was appropriated to Dr. Alexander Tsai, an associate professor at Harvard University who is conducting the research through Massachusetts General Hospital, where he works as a psychiatrist.

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Poll: 73 Percent of Virginia Small Businesses Want Republican-Run Congress

Nearly three-quarters of small business owners in Virginia hope Republicans will come out on top, according to a poll conducted by the small business network Alignable.

According to the poll, 73 percent of small business owners hope Republicans will control both chambers of Congress. Less than one-fifth of business owners, about 18 percent want to see Democrats control both chambers. Another 4 percent are hoping for split control of Congress and about 6 percent chose none of the above.

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Claiming ‘Democracy Under Attack,’ Biden Administration Looks to Make It Harder to Oust Unions

The day after President Joe Biden claimed “American democracy is under attack,” his administration took action to make it more difficult for employees to vote on whether or not they want to join a union.

At a Democrat Party campaign event on Wednesday, Biden said democracy is under attack by the “MAGA Republican Party,” referring to those who support former President Donald Trump.

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Polls Find Key Races Too Close to Call

United States Capitol

Election day comes Tuesday, putting a range of major issues up for grabs as both parties battle for control of the House, Senate and gubernatorial races around the country.

The latest polling shows a tight but favorable electoral landscape for Republicans. FiveThirtyEight’s analysis and compilation of generic polls found voters overall prefer that Republicans control Congress by 1.2 percent.

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Border Patrol Union Tells ACLU ‘Go to Hell,’ Urges Votes for Pro-Border Defense Candidates

After another clash with foreign nationals illegally entering the U.S., the union representing Border Patrol agents is urging Americans to vote on Nov. 8 for candidates who will defend them, the rule of law, and the southern border.

On Monday, mostly single male Venezuelans, Mexicans and Hondurans crossed the Rio Grande River and attempted to illegally enter the U.S. near El Paso, Texas, and allegedly assaulted Border Patrol agents demanding to be let into the country.

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Nearly Two Open Jobs for Every Unemployed Worker, Data Shows

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released new employment data which showed there are nearly two open jobs for every unemployed worker in the U.S.

The federal data showed the number of job openings rose to 10.7 million in September, up about 437,000 from the previous month after a significant decrease in August.

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Survey: Growing Number of Small Businesses Can’t Pay Rent

Newly released small business survey data shows that an alarming number of businesses are unable to pay rent.

Alignable released its monthly small business report for October which showed 37% of American small business owners were unable to pay rent on time or in full last month. That is up from 30% who said the same the month before.

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Cell Phone Bans in Public Schools are Trending Nationwide

Seven years ago, the former New York City Schools Chancellor said the city’s decision to lift a ban on cell phones in schools was “common sense.”

Last week, the Philadelphia Board of Education approved a contract of up to $5 million with a company that makes locking phone pouches that allow educators to make classrooms phone-free.

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Democratic Secretaries of State Warn ‘Independent State Legislature Theory’ Would Upend Elections

Thirteen Secretaries of State led by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in Moore v. Harper, a case that will have the court considering the “independent state legislature” theory.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Moore v. Harper in December, a case brought forth after the Republican-controlled North Carolina Legislature adopted a new congressional voting map based on 2020 Census results. A group of Democratic voters and nonprofit organizations alleged the map was a partisan gerrymander that violated the state constitution and challenged it in court, according to Ballotpedia.

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GDP Bounces Back with 2.6 Percent Growth After Decline Earlier This Year

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released its quarterly Gross Domestic Product data Thursday which the economy grew in the third quarter of 2022 by 2.6% at an annualized rate.

“The increase in real GDP reflected increases in exports, consumer spending, nonresidential fixed investment, federal government spending, and state and local government spending, that were partly offset by decreases in residential fixed investment and private inventory investment,” BEA said.

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Federal Deficit Tops $1.4 Trillion in Fiscal Year 2022, Nearly 50 Percent Above Pre-COVID Level

The Biden administration on Friday released its budgetary data for the last month of fiscal year 2022 which showed the U.S. government ran up a roughly $1.4 trillion deficit. That is an average of nearly $120 billion in added debt every month.

Federal debt surpassed $31 trillion earlier this month. The federal debt topped $30 trillion, its own milestone, in January of this year.

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DEA: 36 Million Lethal Doses of Fentanyl Removed from U.S. Communities Between May and September

As a result of law enforcement operations from May through September of this year, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and law enforcement partners confiscated 36 million lethal doses of fentanyl, enough to kill 36 million Americans.

As part of the DEA’s One Pill Can Kill initiative, DEA agents and law enforcement partners in multiple states seized more than 10.2 million fentanyl pills and approximately 980 pounds of fentanyl powder.

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Republicans Maintain Edge in Battle for House, Senate, Gubernatorial Races

Republicans have an advantage just a few weeks out from the November elections, according to newly released polling data.

CNBC released its “All-America Economic Survey,” which showed Republicans have a 2-point advantage over Democrats, with 48% saying they prefer Republicans control Congress, compared to 46% preferring Democrats.

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Poll: Americans Say Federal Government Has Too Much Power

US Capitol Infrastructure

Newly released polling data shows that a majority of Americans say the federal government has too much power.

Gallup released the poll Wednesday, which showed that 54% of Americans said the federal government is “too powerful.” The survey found 39% said the federal government has the right amount of power while only 6% said it has too little.

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Virginia Has Almost 250,000 Illegal Immigrants, Five Sanctuary Localities

Border surge

More than a quarter of a million people in Virginia immigrated to the country illegally, according to estimates, and five localities do not fully work with federal law enforcement regarding deportations.

Although the government does not have data on the exact number of immigrants who came to the country illegally, estimates for the Virginia population are usually somewhere between 250,000 and 275,000. Some proponents of stricter immigration control have warned the failure to enforce immigration laws has become a burden on local economies and has made communities less safe.

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Americans Cut Back on Groceries Because of Inflation

Newly released polling data shows that inflation is causing most Americans to cut back at the grocery store. 

Morning Consult released the survey results, which showed that 82% of American shoppers report trying to save on groceries in the last month because of inflation with more and more Americans simply buying less at the store.

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‘Shocking’: EcoHealth Alliance Receives Another Round of Funding for Coronavirus Bat Research in Asia

Anthony Fauci

A coalition of leading House Republicans is raising the alarm and demanding answers after the Biden administration approved another round of grant funding for research on coronaviruses and bats in Asia.

The lawmakers sent a letter to Anthony Fauci, who leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and serves as the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden.

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