Congress Addresses Private Equity, Corporations’ ‘Predatory Purchasing’ of Homes as Americans Struggle with Rising Prices

Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to purchase an affordable home as large investors increase their market share. The House Financial Services Committee held a hearing Tuesday to address private equity ownership of single-family rentals and the impact it’s having on average Americans. 

“Today’s hearing will examine troubling issues regarding the mass predatory purchasing of single-family homes by private equity firms,” said Rep. Al Green, D-Texas.

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California Leaks Personal Information of Legal Gun Owners

A new dashboard from the California Attorney General’s office has leaked the personal information of thousands of the state’s gun owners.

The California Department of Justice launched its 2022 Firearms Dashboard Portal on Monday. The portal featured data on the state’s gun purchases as well as concealed carry license holders. 

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Bill Would Give Drone Pilots Same Tax-Free Status as Soldiers in Combat Zones

New federal legislation would give drone operators stationed on American soil the same tax benefits given to soldiers stationed in a combat zone. 

U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., along with Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., announced legislation Wednesday that would expand the Combat Zone Tax Exclusion to remotely piloted aircraft crews operating missions in combat zones. The eligibility would allow Air Force remotely piloted aircraft missions flown out of Nevada’s Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs to qualify. 

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Appeals Court Grants Temporary Stay in Juul Fight Against FDA Banning Its E-Cigarettes

A federal appeals court on Friday granted a request for a temporary stay to vape manufacturer Juul Labs Inc. in its fight against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ban of its e-cigarettes from being sold in the U.S.

The FDA issued marketing denial orders (MDOs) Thursday and said JUUL’s current inventory being sold in the U.S. “must be removed, or risk enforcement action.”

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Individuals Call for Assassination of Justice Clarence Thomas after Roe v. Wade Ruling

Individuals have been calling on social media for the assassination of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas after he issued a separate concurring opinion on Friday in a ruling that struck down Roe v. Wade. Abortion activists have also published his home address, and others have called to burn down the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned two landmark abortion cases, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, returning the legality of abortion to the states. Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority and Justice Thomas wrote a solo concurring opinion in which he argued that the Supreme Court should also reconsider rulings on contraception, same-sex relationships and marriage.

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26 Attorneys General Urge Supreme Court to Reverse California’s Agricultural Animal Confinement Law

Attorneys general from 26 states are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower-court decision upholding a California law banning the raising or importing pork, veal or eggs if the animals are confined.

The Supreme Court announced on March 28 that it would hear the pork industry’s challenge to California’s Proposition 12, a law restricting confinement practices in animal agriculture. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on Oct. 11.

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Biden Signs Bipartisan Gun Control Measure Supported by 29 Republicans

President Joe Biden on Saturday signed bipartisan gun control legislation meant to take guns out of the hands of individuals deemed a threat, though critics say that’s a violation of due process rights. The measure also imposes more thorough background checks on buyers under the age of 21.

It does not include a ban on AR-15-style weapons or limit the number of bullets in magazines.

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Federal Reserve Chair Powell Says During Senate Hearing That a Recession Is Possible

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the U.S. could enter into a recession when questioned Wednesday during a Senate Banking Committee hearing.

Confronted about 40-year-high inflation and the Fed raising interest rates in response, Powell said he couldn’t know for sure but said a recession, defined as a significant decline in economic activity over time, is possible.

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U.S. Senate Reaches Agreement on Gun Control Bill

The U.S. Senate voted late Tuesday to advance a gun control bill with 14 Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, joining Democrats to approve the measure.

The vote was reached after weeks of negotiating a bipartisan bill in response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in which a gunman shot and killed 19 children and two teachers.

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Poll: Majority of Republicans, Independents Fear Abuse of ‘Red Flag’ Laws

The majority of Republican and Independent voters think “red flag” gun laws that allow judges to confiscate individuals’ firearms can be abused for political reasons, according to a new poll.

Convention of States Action, along with the Trafalgar Group, released polling data Wednesday that shows that 72.2% of Republicans and 52.3% of Independents “believe that ‘red flag’ gun control laws that are designed to temporarily take guns away from individuals have the potential to be abused by local authorities and government officials to disarm their political opponents and/or citizens who disagree with them.”

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Report: World’s First Trillionaires Could Be from Texas

The world’s first trillionaires could be from Texas, according to a new analysis of the 30 richest people in the world.

A new report published by the software company Tipalti Approve estimates that newly relocated Texas resident, Tesla CEO and billionaire Elon Musk, could become the world’s first trillionaire by 2024. Houston native and Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell could become a trillionaire by 2033.

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Lawmakers Say Documents Show DHS Head Misled Congress About Disinformation Board, Demand Hearing

Several Republican senators are demanding a hearing saying they received documents from a Department of Homeland Security whistleblower about the agency’s new disinformation governance board that allegedly show DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas misled a Senate committee when he testified about the board last month.

The lawmakers sent a letter this week to Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee asking for a hearing on the issue where Mayorkas could come back for questioning.

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More Teachers, Fewer Students Nationwide Despite Claims of Teacher Shortage

The number of teachers in the U.S. has increased from 2013 to 2020 while the number of students has decreased, according to data from the National Education Association, the nation’s largest public-school union.

While total enrollment has dropped 1.4% over those seven years, there has been a 2.3% increase in the number of public-school teachers.

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Total Southern Border Encounters, ‘Gotaways’ Greater Than Population of 23 U.S. States

President Joe Biden and his administration insist the southwest U.S. border is closed and federal immigration laws are being enforced.

But since Biden took office, more than 3 million people have been encountered/apprehended entering the U.S. illegally from over 150 countries, according to Customs and Border Patrol data. And that number doesn’t include so-called “gotaways,” the term used for those crossing the border illegally who evade capture.

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DeSantis: Texas Should Be Sending Illegal Immigrants Back to Mexico

Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says Texas shouldn’t be allowing illegal immigrants to enter the state, echoing sentiments conservative Texans have been arguing for over a year.

“What Texas needs to do is just send them [illegal immigrants] back across the border,” Gov. DeSantis said at a recent press conference in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. “Who cares what the Feds are saying. They aren’t doing their job.

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Border Patrol Records Another Record High of Apprehensions, Encounters at Southern Border in May

Crowd of immigrants

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol published official data Thursday for apprehensions and encounters May: the highest monthly total in recorded U.S. history of 239,416.

CBP published the data after The Center Square published preliminary numbers received from a Border Patrol agent.

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Republican Attorneys General, 26 of 27, Challenge New Sex-Based Discrimination Federal Guidance

Half of the state attorneys general in the country want the Biden administration to walk back new federal guidance on sex-based discrimination for schools and other organizations that receive federal money for food programs.

The AGs, 26 of the 27 Republicans in those offices across the country, claim in a letter to President Biden the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s guidance means states, local agencies and programs that receive federal food dollars through the Food and Nutrition Act and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program could lose funding if they don’t comply, including in hiring practices.

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Retail Sales Fall in May as Prices Continue to Rise

The U.S. Census Bureau Wednesday released advance estimates of U.S. retail sales which showed those sales fell 0.4% in May.

Motor vehicle and parts dealers took the biggest hit, with sales dropping 3.5%. Electronics and appliance stores sales decreased 1.3%. Furniture and home furniture stores, as well as health and personal care stores, also experienced a decrease in sales.

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Largest Pork Packer Leaving California

Another company is leaving California, this time the largest pork packer in the U.S.

Smithfield Foods, Inc., announced it is closing its Vernon, California, facility and reducing its hog production in the western U.S. region, citing as its reason the “escalating cost of doing business in California.”

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IRS Destroyed 30 Million Tax Filing Documents, Lawmakers Demand Answers

Outside of IRS building

The Internal Revenue Service has been under fire for delays and millions of backlogged returns, but now lawmakers are raising the alarm after the federal agency “destroyed” millions of Americans’ tax documents.

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig this week asking for answers about why these records were destroyed.

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Foreign Investment in U.S. Farmland May Be a National Security Issue, According to Expert

Foreign investment in U.S. farmland has tripled in the past 10 years, reporters at a non-profit investigative journalism group found.

Investigate Midwest used U.S. Department of Agriculture data to call attention to this trend. Farmer Joe Maxwell, co-founder of the group Farm Action, told The Center Square that control of U.S. farmland by foreign investors is worrisome on a number of fronts.

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Taxpayer Funding for NFL, Other Pro Sports Stadiums Grows Exponentially

Over the next nine years, more than half of the stadiums in the National Football League will reach 30 years of age, or the age at which stadiums are generally replaced, according to economist J.C. Bradbury of Kennesaw State University in Georgia.

The model for replacement is trending more toward the taxpayer-supported efforts being pitched for the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills than it is strictly team-owner funded stadiums such as the $5 billion SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, home of the Chargers and Super Bowl-champion Rams.

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Unfunded State Pension Liabilities Grow to $8.28 Trillion

Unfunded state pension liabilities have climbed to $8.28 trillion, or nearly $25,000 for every person in the United States, according to a new report from the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The American Legislative Exchange Council released the latest edition of its report on pensions in all 50 states Thursday. The report, “Unaccountable and Unaffordable 2021,” shows just a handful of states with outsize pension liabilities account for a large share of overall pension debt in the U.S. 

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Nearly 10,000-Person Caravan Heading to U.S. from Mexico, Saying Biden Will Give Them Asylum

A caravan of thousands of people heading to the U.S. has reportedly left from Tapachula, Mexico, a city located less than 10 miles from the Mexico-Guatemala border.

The timing of their departure was planned to coincide with the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, which began Monday. President Joe Biden, who’s still not been to the U.S. southern border, spoke at the summit Wednesday.

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17 States File Legal Brief in Support of Florida Law Banning Sanctuary Cities

Seventeen Republican attorneys general have filed an amicus brief with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in support of a Florida law banning sanctuary cities.

The brief was filed by the attorneys general of Alabama and Georgia, Steve Marshall and Christopher Carr. Joining them were the attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

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Yellen to Testify on Biden Budget After Admitting She Was Wrong on Inflation

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will testify before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday, just days after she admitted she was wrong about inflation earlier in President Joe Biden’s term.

The hearing, which is on “the president’s fiscal year 2023 budget” will only feature testimony from Yellen, according to the committee’s website.

Biden’s budget likely will be under extra scrutiny as gas prices continue to hit record highs and inflation rises at the fastest level in decades.

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Second Amendment Foundation Sues over Washington’s High-Capacity Magazine Ban

The Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation on Friday filed a federal lawsuit against Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and several other officials, challenging the state’s ban on large-capacity magazines for handguns and rifles.

Senate Bill 5078 prohibits the sale of gun magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds, along with the manufacturing, distribution or import of such magazines in Washington.

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Average U.S. Gas Price Surges to $4.85 a Gallon

In what has become a seemingly every day occurrence, gas prices rose to a new record high Sunday as the national average approaches $5 a gallon.

Nine states already have surpassed the $5 threshold, and several others are just pennies away.

According to AAA, the average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline reached $4.85 Sunday, up an additional three cents from Saturday and 24 cents from last week.

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As Food Prices Soar with No End in Sight, Americans Change Habits

Americans are changing their shopping habits because of soaring food prices. And disruptions in the international farming community have some worried about the food supply heading into 2023.

The BMO Real Financial Progress Index, a quarterly survey from BMO and Ipsos, shows that 42% of surveyed adults “are changing how they shop for groceries,” including “opting for cheaper items, avoiding brand names and buying only the essentials.”

The report found “46% are either dining out less or consciously spending less when dining out.”

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Virginia Budget Deal Cuts School Choice Program by More than Half

The Virginia budget deal, which passed both chambers of the General Assembly, would cut funding for a school choice tax credit program by more than half of its current funding.

The Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits Program provides a 65% tax credit for individuals or businesses who make donations for scholarships to students so they can attend certain private schools and nonpublic preschool programs. Current law caps the state funding for the program at $25 million per year, but a provision in the budget proposal would reduce that cap to only $12 million per year.

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Quarter of Americans Will Delay Retirement Because of Inflation, Survey Says

Millions of Americans say the likely will have to push back their retirement because of rising inflation, newly released financial survey data found.

The BMO Real Financial Progress Index, a quarterly survey from BMO and Ipsos, showed that a quarter of Americans will likely need to delay their retirement because of higher prices.

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Congressional Budget Office: Debt to Surpass GDP at Record Level over Next Decade

The Congressional Budget Office released its economic outlook for the next decade and projected record high debt levels compared to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

The CBO projected a decrease in the deficit compared to the major COVID-era spending spree that helped fuel inflation to its current high levels.

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Virginia Budget Deal Includes Middle-Class Tax Cuts, Grocery Tax Cut

After months of debate about Virginia’s biennium budget, lawmakers reached a deal to provide an income tax cut for the middle class, a reduction in the grocery tax and a pay raise for teachers.

The deal earned approval from Republicans and Democrats in a joint conference committee, but still needs to pass the House of Delegates and the Senate and be signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Republicans narrowly control the House and Democrats narrowly control the Senate.

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Universities Reinstate Mask Mandates Around the Country

As the school year draws to an end, American universities around the country are reinstating mask mandates.

The University of California Los Angeles sent out an email to its students on May 26, stating that its mask mandate “will go back into effect beginning Friday, May 27 and remain in place through Wednesday, June 15.”

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USDA Approves School Nutrition Grant, Rural Development Loans for Virginia

The USDA approved nearly $1 million for a Virginia grant to assist with food and nutrition services in public schools and more than $9 million worth of rural development loans to two Virginia programs.

A $982,827 grant to the Virginia Department of Education will help the department with their nutrition staff to implement meal pattern standards for schools in the next year, according to a USDA news release. The grant is called the “Team Nutrition Training Grant for School Nutrition Professional Readiness and Retention.”

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Poll: Families Cancel Vacations, Summer Camp Because of Inflation

A majority of surveyed American families are worried about inflation and are changing their summer vacation plans because of it, according to newly released polling data.

The poll, from Echelon Insights, found that “75% of parents say they are concerned about the rising cost of everyday purchases like food or gas.”

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Gas Prices Hit Record High Every Day for Past Two Weeks

Gas prices have soared to new heights this month with the price of unleaded regular gas hitting a record high every day for the past two weeks. With Memorial Day weekend approaching, motorists face steep costs if they plan to travel.

According to AAA, the national average regular unleaded gas price Tuesday came in at $4.60, a record high. Diesel gasoline is at $5.55 per gallon, just below the record set last week.

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IRS Under Fire over Wasted Billions of Dollars and Millions in Backlogs

Lawmakers continued to raise concerns about the Internal Revenue Service at a Congressional hearing this week as the agency deals with billions in misspent dollars, hefty processing backlogs, and complaints over poor customer service.

Lawmakers lobbed questions at the tax-collecting agency during the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee hearing.

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Survey Suggests High Summer Travel; Virginia Tourism Industry Worried About Gas Prices

A survey from the tech company GasBuddy found more Americans are planning to travel this summer, but the Virginia tourism industry is still concerned that the steady increase of gas prices could still cause issues.

“Against a backdrop of gas prices that have continued to set new records ahead of Memorial Day, Americans have been resilient in their desire to hit the road, but we’re certainly seeing increased hesitancy due to rising prices at the pump,” Patrick De Haan, the head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, said in a statement.

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Justice Thomas: ‘We Are in Danger of Destroying the Institutions Required for a Free Society’

It’s been two weeks and there’s still no word on who leaked the U.S. Supreme Court draft brief indicating that the court was set to overturn Roe V. Wade and returning the issue of abortion back to the states.

At a recent event in Dallas, Texas, hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution, and the Manhattan Institute, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke about the leak and his concern for the rule of law and credibility of the court.

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Majority of Americans Say They Are ‘Falling Behind’ Rising Cost of Living

The majority of Americans feel they cannot keep up with the cost of living as inflation and the price of goods continue to rise, according to new polling data.

A poll from NBC News asked Americans, “Do you think that your family’s income is … going up faster than the cost of living, staying about even with the cost of living, or falling behind the cost of living?”

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Buyers Need 40 Percent More Income to Buy a Home in Top Metro Areas: Report

Demand for homes in certain areas of the country has caused supply to dwindle, prices to skyrocket and buyers needing nearly 50% more income than they would have last year to even enter top markets, according to a report by the real estate brokerage firm, Redfin.

“Housing is significantly less affordable than it was a year ago because the surge in housing costs has far outpaced the increase in wages, meaning many Americans are now priced out of homeownership,” Redfin Deputy Chief Economist Taylor Marr said.

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CBP’s Air and Marine Operations Interdicted 62 Tons of Drugs in First Three Months of Year

Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations interdicted 62 tons (124,000 pounds) of illicit drugs in the first three months of this year, CBP reports, working with international, federal, state and local partners.

“Collaboration keeps us all safer,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said of their efforts. “CBP AMO works with U.S. and international partners to stem the flow of illicit narcotics. Through the end of March, AMO has contributed to the seizure of over 124,000 lbs of narcotics by partner agencies.”

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‘Shocking Discovery:’ Biden Knows Drug Cartels Control, Profit from Illegal Immigration, DHS Memo Shows

Crowd of immigrants

Border patrol agents are preparing for “a possible increase in migrant activity due to an increase in large group activity” as a result of Biden administration immigration policies, an internal Department of Homeland Security document released by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody says.

It specifically sites suspending the Migrant Protection Protocols, otherwise known as the Remain in Mexico Policy, and terminating the public health authority, Title 42, as contributing to an influx of people coming to the U.S. southern border from Central and South America through Mexico.

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