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HUD Wants More Rent, Work Rules For Poor Tenants

HUD wants low-income families on housing assistance to pay more rent. CNN: "Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson announced Wednesday a proposal that would increase rent payments for more than two million of the nation's poorest. The new low-income rent reform would require households that receive federal housing assistance to pay 35% of their gross income in rent, up from the current requirement of 30% of adjusted income. Also, it would triple the minimum monthly rent these families must pay -- from $50 to $150. Roughly 712,000 housing assistance recipients currently pay less than $150 a month... The proposal dubbed "The Making Affordable Housing Work Act" is a bill Congress would have to approve. HUD cannot unilaterally change the rent rules. The overhaul would also allow housing authorities across the country to require residents to work. The move is in keeping with the Trump administration's efforts to mandate work for Americans who receive public assistance. President Donald Trump last week issued an executive order directing agencies to promote employment for those who receive government benefits. Already, federal agencies are instituting or expanding work requirements for those on Medicaid and food stamps."

Muslim Travel Ban Faces SCOTUS Test

Key justices seem skeptical of challenge to Trump’s travel ban. NYT: "A 15-month legal battle over President Trump’s efforts to impose a ban on travel to the United States from several predominantly Muslim countries reached a final stage on Wednesday at the Supreme Court, with its five-member conservative majority signaling it was ready to approve a revised version of the president’s plan. The justices appeared ready to discount Mr. Trump’s campaign promises to impose what he repeatedly described as a “Muslim ban,” while giving him the benefit of the doubt traditionally afforded to presidents. Some expressed worry about second-guessing executive branch determinations about who should be allowed to enter the United States."

EPA's Pruitt Faces Ethics Scrutiny

EPA chief Pruitt faces tough questions on Capitol Hill. NPR: "Scott Pruitt was supposed to spend today on Capitol Hill discussing the Environmental Protection Agency's budget. That may seem an easy task compared to the grilling he's likely to get instead over myriad allegations of improper spending and ethics violations. It's the first time Pruitt will appear before lawmakers since weeks of accusations prompted a string of investigations — by the EPA Inspector General's office, at the GAO, and in Congress... Try as he might, Pruitt hasn't been able to make these issues go away. 'New information continues to come out about behavior at the EPA,' says Jerry Taylor, president of the libertarian Niskanen Center. 'All of it is incredibly disturbing and utterly unprecedented.'"

CFPB's Mulvaney Wants Banks To Pay For Influence

CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney urges bankers to pay for influence. Fortune: "Mick Mulvaney, the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is not shy about the relationship between money and politics. 'We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress,' Mulvaney, a former Republican representative for South Carolina’s 5th District, told 1,300 bankers and lending industry officials on Tuesday. 'If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you,' Mulvaney told attendees of the American Bankers Association conference in Washington. During his congressional campaigns, Mulvaney received nearly $63,000 from payday lenders. In the speech Tuesday, Mulvaney encouraged the financial services industry to make campaign donations, saying he was most responsive to constituents and lobbyists who contributed to his campaign when he was a congressman."

National Lynching Memorial Opens In Alabama

New Lynching Memorial Is A Space 'To Talk About All Of That Anguish'. NPR: "The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, opening Thursday, stands high on a hillside overlooking downtown Montgomery, Ala. Beyond the buildings you can see the winding Alabama River and hear the distant whistle of a train — the nexus that made the city a hub for the domestic slave trade. And that's where the experience begins as visitors encounter a life-size sculpture in bronze of six people in rusting shackles, including a mother with a baby in her arms. 'You see the agony and the anguish and the suffering in these figures,' says Bryan Stevenson, founder and director of the Equal Justice Initiative, the non-profit legal advocacy group that created the memorial. 'It's people in distress,' Stevenson says. 'And I don't think we've actually done a very good job of acknowledging the pain and agony, the suffering, the humiliation, the complete denial of humanity that slavery created for black people on this continent.'"

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Shareholders Join Activists to Say ‘Time’s Up, Wells Fargo!’ Xoai Pham: "It’s time for an end to Wells Fargo's profits from shady lending, supporting the gun lobby and fossil fuels, trampling the rights of Native communities, unsuspecting borrowers and the environment. I was one of the hundreds of organizers, activists and shareholders who traveled to Des Moines, Iowa from all across the country to deliver this message to the bank’s executives at their annual shareholders’ meeting. Our struggle continues: Help shut down Wells Fargo by joining us to talk about next steps in this campaign to hold America’s worst bank accountable. "

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