On The Money: McConnell offering new coronavirus relief bill | Biden introduces economic team, vows swift action on relief | Rare Mnuchin-Powell spat takes center stage at COVID-19 hearing

On The Money: McConnell offering new coronavirus relief bill | Biden introduces economic team, vows swift action on relief | Rare Mnuchin-Powell spat takes center stage at COVID-19 hearing
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THE BIG DEAL—McConnell offering new coronavirus relief bill after talks with Mnuchin, Meadows: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season MORE (R-Ky.) will start circulating among Senate Republicans on Tuesday a new coronavirus relief proposal that could garner support from the White House.

McConnell, during a weekly press conference on Tuesday, said he had been speaking with Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinMajor Russian hacking group linked to ransomware attack on Sinclair: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Former Treasury secretaries tried to resolve debt limit impasse in talks with McConnell, Yellen: report MORE and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Jan. 6 organizers used burner phones to communicate with White House: report Trump allies leaning on his executive privilege claims MORE about what President TrumpDonald TrumpStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE could sign.

“I think we have a sense of what that is. ... We’re going to send that out to all the offices and get some feedback to see how our members react,” McConnell said.

  • Congress is quickly running out of time to pass lame-duck legislation with the House poised to leave as soon as next week. 
  • The federal government faces a Dec. 11 funding deadline and McConnell said any coronavirus relief will ride on that.

The Hill's Jordain Carney tells us more here.

The background: McConnell's decision to offer a new proposal comes as months of talks with the White House and Democratic leadership over a fifth coronavirus bill have failed to get results.

  • If Congress is going to pass additional relief, McConnell said he expected it would be folded into a must-pass government funding bill.  
  • McConnell said the two Democratic leaders made him a new offer on coronavirus relief on Monday.
  • A spokesman for Schumer didn’t immediately respond to a question about the offer and Pelosi, in a statement, said she had raised the prospects of another coronavirus bill with Mnuchin.

Another offer: A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers also introduced a $908 billion bill earlier Tuesday, though they didn’t have buy-in from leadership or the White House.

  • The bill, according to a framework released on Tuesday, would provide another $160 billion for states and cities — a top priority for Democrats — $180 billion for unemployment insurance and $288 billion for more small business assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • The unemployment benefits would break down to $300 a week for 18 weeks, retroactive to Dec. 1. That’s half of the $600 per week included under the CARES Act from late March.
  • It also includes billions in assistance for transportation-related industries such as airlines, $16 billion for vaccine development and distribution and more money for things like schools, child care and the Postal Service.

That said, it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. “We just don’t have time to waste time,” McConnell responded when asked if it could be used as a starting point.

LEADING THE DAY

Biden introduces economic team, vows swift action on struggling economy: President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips Five House members meet with Taiwanese president despite Chinese objections Sunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist MORE formally introduced the first members of his economic team Tuesday with a focus on addressing the coronavirus-induced downturn that has plagued businesses and American workers.

Biden described his team as capable of steering the U.S. through the crisis and helping to rebuild the economy so that it's stronger than it was before the pandemic and lifts up the middle class.

“The team that I am announcing today will play a critical role in shaping our plan for action starting on day one and move fast to revive this economy,” Biden said in prepared remarks in Wilmington, Del., before announcing six intended members of his team, including his nominee for Treasury secretary, Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenBlowing up the Death Star would cause an economic crisis (and other reasons employers shouldn't pay off workers' college debt) Buttigieg has high name recognition, favorability rating in Biden Cabinet: survey Biden's spending binge makes Americans poorer, just before the holidays MORE.

“Our message to everybody struggling right now is this: Help is on the way,” he added.

The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant and Naomi Jagoda take us there.

Emphasis on COVID-19 relief: Biden urged Congress to promptly pass a “robust package for relief,” while noting that any COVID-19 legislation passed during the lame-duck session "is likely to be, at best, just a start.” He said his transition team is working on a measure that he plans to introduce after Inauguration Day.

  • Pandemic-related closures have had a devastating effect on small- and medium-sized businesses and left millions of Americans out of work. 
  • Congress has failed to pass a new relief package that would provide much-needed assistance to businesses, unemployed Americans and cash-strapped state and local governments despite months of negotiations between the White House and leaders on Capitol Hill.

Yellen, who spoke immediately after Biden on Tuesday, emphasized the need for swift action to address the pandemic and recession, noting the crises have disproportionately impacted the most financially vulnerable Americans.

“It’s an American tragedy and it’s essential that we move with urgency,” she said. “Inaction will produce a self-reinforcing downturn, causing yet more devastation.”

Rare Mnuchin-Powell spat takes center stage at COVID-19 hearing: A rare public break between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell took center stage during a Senate hearing Tuesday as Republicans and Democrats sparred over the expiration of coronavirus relief.

Democrats were eager to exploit the fallout from Mnuchin’s recent decision to close $454 billion in Fed emergency lending facilities set up through the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, a move that elicited public criticism from Powell.

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Both Mnuchin and Powell sought to play down the divide before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday by deferring to each other’s authority and treading carefully around disagreements.

But furious Democrats, who insist the lending facilities could be crucial if the third COVID-19 wave causes more financial turmoil, urged Powell to take a tougher stand against what they called a politically motivated decision to undermine the economy before Mnuchin departs on Jan. 20. I have more here.

The background: The dispute centers on a deadline set out in the CARES Act over what must be done with several lending facilities that were backed up with $454 billion in credit protection through the massive stimulus bill. The resulting law said the CARES Act-backed lending facilities cannot “make new loans, loan guarantees, or other investments” past Dec. 31.

  • Mnuchin and Republicans argue that the end-of-year deadline is legally binding. They also insist that the soon-to-be shuttered lending facilities have already served their purpose of stabilizing financial markets and encouraging private lenders to meet the needs of mid-sized businesses and local governments.
  • Democrats, however, argue the facilities can still modify or extend CARES Act-backed loans into next year and say there is no reason for Mnuchin to pull funding for those programs if his successor decides or needs to reopen them later on.

GOOD TO KNOW

ODDS AND ENDS

  • More than 100 million people shopped online for Black Friday this year, a record high according to figures released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation (NRF).
  • Amazon announced Tuesday that independent businesses on its platform received more than $4.8 billion in sales worldwide from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. 
  • Salesforce announced its intention Tuesday to acquire workplace messaging service Slack for $27.7 billion in cash and stock.