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On The Money: Expanding tax credit for businesses retaining workers gains bipartisan support | China halts purchases of US soybeans, pork | Supreme Court backs financial board overseeing Puerto Rico's debt

On The Money: Expanding tax credit for businesses retaining workers gains bipartisan support | China halts purchases of US soybeans, pork | Supreme Court backs financial board overseeing Puerto Rico's debt
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THE BIG DEAL—Expanding tax credit for businesses retaining workers gains bipartisan support: Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are expressing interest in expanding a tax credit designed to help keep workers connected to their jobs, a sign that the idea could find its way into the next coronavirus relief package.

  • For much of the pandemic, certain businesses have been eligible to take advantage of a refundable payroll tax credit of up to $5,000 per employee for wages and health care benefits paid through the end of the year.
  • Lawmakers are now offering proposals to increase the amount of the credit and make other changes in an effort to keep more workers connected to their employers.

There are many uncertainties about another coronavirus relief package, ranging from the timing of the next bill to how lawmakers address issues such as federal aid to states, liability protection for businesses and a $600 per week increase in unemployment benefits that’s set to expire at the end of July.

But there are lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who are supportive of the employee retention tax credit (ERTC) that was included in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act signed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE on March 27. The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda tells us more about the push here.

LEADING THE DAY

China halts purchases of US soybeans, pork: China has reportedly told state-owned firms to stop buying U.S. soybeans and pork, a move that would break a key provision of the phase one trade deal between the world's two largest economies.

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Reuters reported on Monday, citing two unnamed sources, that the order from Beijing also applies to corn and cotton. According to the newswire, China is retaliating against President Trump for announcing he would strip Hong Kong of its special status.

  • Trump made the announcement last week in response to a proposed Chinese law that would effectively nullify Hong Kong's semi-autonomous status, which has been crucial to the city's economy and position as an international finance hub.
  • Scaling back U.S. farm purchases could threaten the trade deal signed in mid-January, when Beijing and Washington agreed to dial back steep economic tariffs in exchange for a handful of reforms and a promise by China to buy $32 billion of U.S. agricultural goods.
  • China’s willingness and ability to meet the terms of the deal was dubious even before tensions rose over Hong Kong and before COVID-19 sapped much of the economic power in both nations necessary. The recent flashpoints leave the future of the deal in serious doubt.

Supreme Court backs financial board overseeing Puerto Rico's debt: The Supreme Court in a 9-0 ruling Monday upheld the constitutionality of a financial oversight board that Congress set up to manage the restructuring of Puerto Rico's nearly $125 billion bond and pension debt.

The unanimous decision rejects a claim by a group of bondholders that the oversight board was unconstitutional. Bondholders argued the board’s members should have been appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, as required by the Appointments Clause.

But the court's opinion, written by Justice Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerSupreme Court hears landmark B copyright fight between Oracle, Google RBG was a champion for creators, too Appeals court revives House lawsuit against Trump border wall MORE, held that the board's duties were local, rather than national, in nature.

“The Board’s statutory responsibilities consist of primarily local duties, namely, representing Puerto Rico in bankruptcy proceedings and supervising aspects of Puerto Rico’s fiscal and budgetary policies,” Breyer wrote. “We therefore find that the Board members are not ‘Officers of the United States.’”

“For that reason,” he continued, “the Appointments Clause does not dictate how the Board’s members must be selected.” The Hill’s John Kruzel has more here.

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Markets closed up on the first day of June, continuing an upward trajectory that has seen stocks rise precipitously from March lows caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Facebook employees are publicly criticizing the company for not taking action against President Trump's comments on protests against police brutality in Minnesota.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic will reduce the size of economic output by a combined $7.9 trillion over the next decade in real terms, or 3 percent of cumulative GDP, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office.
  • A prominent GOP House lawmaker on Monday introduced legislation to create a "return to work bonus," an idea gaining traction among Republicans concerned about the $600-per-week boost to unemployment benefits enacted in March amid the coronavirus pandemic.