California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law Monday dedicating $12 billion towards combating homelessness in the state.
The new legislation is the largest investment in the state’s history in confronting the homelessness crisis, topping last year’s amount of $950 million, Newsom said during a Monday press conference.
The “California Comeback Plan,” which will also focus on affordable housing, will come with “more transparency and more accountability,” Newsom said. He added that the funds will provide crucial support for the state population that are “getting on their feet.”
Previously, solving the homelessness crisis has been left up to cities and counties – not the state. Newsom said he will also be holding cities and counties accountable. Project Roomkey, a homelessness relief initiative, provided shelter for 42,000 homeless Californians during the pandemic.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated that there were 161,548 people experiencing homelessness in California as of January 2020.
“We can end homelessness in the state of California,” Newsom said. “We don’t think that, we know that.”
On Friday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed Republicans for walking back on a bipartisan infrastructure deal just a day after President Joe Biden said “we have a deal.”
On Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez argued the senators had wasted time and negotiated “in bad faith.”
“Wow, who could have possibly predicted that Senate Republicans were wasting months of a Dem majority’s precious time negotiating in bad faith just to suddenly renege on a bipartisan agreement w/ new, mercurial demands after doing exactly the same w the Jan 6th commission,” the New York lawmaker wrote in a tweet.
The criticism came in response to news that one GOP senator was wavering in his support of the $1 trillion infrastructure agreement he had been part of negotiation with the White House, on the grounds that Biden was tying it to Democrats’ passage of another, larger spending package.
“It’s time to move forward, rebuild infrastructure and drawdown carbon, lower the age of Medicare and extend it to cover vision & dental, expand childcare and housing accessibility, and serve the American people,” Ocasio-Cortez continued in another tweet. “That is bipartisan too, with 2 party support among the electorate.”
“The diversity of this ‘bipartisan coalition’ pretty perfectly conveys which communities get centered and which get left behind when leaders prioritize bipartisan dealmaking over inclusive lawmaking (which prioritizes delivering the most impact possible for the most people),” the New York Democrat tweeted alongside a photo of the group of lawmakers with Biden on Thursday.
The bipartisan proposal includes funding for traditional infrastructure like roads and bridges as well as clean water, nationwide broadband, and improved public transit. It also aims to establish a nationwide network of 500,000 electric-vehicle charging stations.
The White House plans to offset the measure’s cost with repurposed unemployment-insurance funds, stricter IRS enforcement, and the purchase of unused toll credits. The corporate tax hike initially sought by the Biden administration wasn’t included in that deal.
Republicans beyond Moran seem mortified that Biden could pass a bipartisan deal while simultaneously passing a party-line bill that covers the rest of his proposals on infrastructure.
“It seems like the momentum in the Republican caucus is to abandon this deal,” Brian Riedl, a former Republican Senate aide who is now a budget expert at the conservative-leaning Manhattan Institute, told Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig. “The fact they feel lied to and misled by the president gives them a pretty clear justification for pulling out.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina went further on Friday, telling Politico that “most Republicans could not have known” that Biden would tie the two bills together. “There’s no way. You look like a f—ing idiot now.”
Miller also said he likes Metromile, a US-based pay-per-mile insurance technology that merged with SPAC Insu Acquisition in February. The billionaire called it the “next wave of insurance company.” Metromile shares have tumbled 50% since their public debut.
“That’s the name we think you could make multiple times your money in the next three or four years,” he told CNBC.
SPACs, shell companies seeking to merge with private companies with the intention of taking them public, have boomed. In 2020, a total of 248 SPACs raised $83.3 billion according to SPAC Analytics. But by the fourth month of 2021 alone, 308 SPACs have raised $99.7 billion, comprising 65% of all IPOs.
Recently however, US regulators have said they will take a closer look at SPACs following the blistering pace of growth over the last year.
Currently, there is no legislation mandating that government interns receive pay. But there should be. Paying federal interns a fair wage is not only the right thing to do, but it could also diversify the halls of government.
While Congress recently started paying interns, the caps on pay are still low compared to the cost of living in the nation’s capital, preventing many students from applying.Last summer, Rep. Tony Cárdenas pointed out that there are 1,110 senior staff positions on Capitol Hill, but only 152 people in those positions are Black, indigineous, people of color (BIPOC). This is a systemic problem that starts when our government limits who can afford to intern on the Hill.
And the issue isn’t just limited to Congress, many other parts of the government are lacking when it comes to intern pay. In March, Sens. Cory Booker and Tim Scott introduced the Department of State Student Internship Program Act, a bipartisan bill that would pay State Department interns a minimum wage. Students would also be provided housing and money for travel if they don’t live within 50 miles of their workplace. This is incredibly promising, yet long overdue.
In a press release to introduce the legislation, Sen. Booker’s office wrote that “for years, the State Department has struggled to recruit people of color.” A primary goal for this paid internship program is to make government hiring more equitable, and that starts from the most junior positions.
Barrier of entry
“At intern mixers, it was overwhelmingly white, and overwhelmingly people who went to DC schools,” remembers Chris Bohórquez, who was an unpaid intern for Rep. Bill Pascrell in 2015. “It was the same kind of experience that I had [as a student at George Washington University], that it was traditionally white, traditionally affluent, and I was very much in the minority of every environment I was in.”
An internship in government is the first step toward a career in public service. While congressional internships offer stipends capped at $1,800 a month, other internships in the federal government only offer college credit. Still, a recent report by Pay Our Interns found that the average total stipend per intern was $1,986.75 in the Senate and $1,612.53 in the House, which isn’t a living wage for multiple months of work. Plus, even though more congressional interns are receiving pay, over 76% of those interns are white, revealing that congressional internship classes are still lacking in diversity. Offering hourly wages, housing, and targeted outreach to underrepresented students could help change that.
Paid or unpaid, the low amounts of support make internships impossible for many students – especially those without familial wealth, who need to earn a reliable paycheck to afford rent, food, and tuition.
A 2018 study from Georgetown University found that eight out of 10 students now work a job while they’re in college. But low-income students are more likely to work paid jobs in retail or customer service, rather than unpaid internships like those offered in DC. By graduation, students who lack industry-specific skills they would’ve gained in an unpaid internship are less competitive applicants for entry-level government jobs.
After paying for housing, food, and transportation, internships can cost interns about $6,000. When employers offer college credit in exchange for their unpaid interns’ service, it can actually worsen the financial strain of working for free. After all, tuition is expensive, and those extra credits cost money. But as the job market becomes more and more competitive, internships are essential to getting a foot in the door, especially in politics.
To afford his unpaid internship, Bohórquez saved money from his work-study job. Then, he arranged all of his classes to be on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so that he could intern from 9 to 5 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
“That was the culture and expectation, that in order to get a good job out of college, you had to bust your butt working unpaid internships,” said Bohórquez. “As a first-generation student, I assumed this was normal.”
Now, Bohórquez runs the paid internship program at Invariant, a public affairs firm in DC.
All students deserve compensation for their labor, yet in government, the lack of legislation to guarantee interns’ pay is particularly disturbing. In order for our government to adequately serve the needs of the American people, we need diverse representation in positions of power. The Department of State Student Internship Program Act would be an invaluable start toward leveling the economic playing field, but we need to extend the precedent for paying interns to all government offices.
In 2018, the nonprofit Pay Our Interns worked with bipartisan legislators to secure $13.8 million in funding for interns in the Senate and the House. Despite these massive steps forward, many internships remain unpaid. Pay Our Interns advised Sens. Booker and Scott on their bill, which is a companion to legislation that Representative Joaquin Castro introduced in the House.
Carlos Mark Vera, the Executive Director of Pay Our Interns, says that per the State Department bill, agencies will be required to do intentional outreach to minority-serving institutions and report who their internship programs served.
“Because of COVID-19, this is more timely and necessary than ever,” Vera says. “Last year, summer jobs and internships were wiped away. We’re losing a whole generation.”
One of the most common arguments against creating paid internship programs is that government budgets are already stretched too thin. When hundreds of qualified applicants apply for existing unpaid roles, there’s little incentive to change anything. But promoting equity and diversity in all levels of government should be incentive enough.
“I think it’s a priority and values issue more than [a] money [issue]. The Department of Education spent over $8 million just on a security detail for former Secretary Betsy DeVos,” says Vera. “So don’t tell me, you know, there isn’t $3 or $4 million there to pay interns. It simply is not the case.”
If only the most wealthy, privileged students can intern on the Hill without significant stain, then our government will continue to fail to reflect the diversity of our country.