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On The Money: Biden calls Dems, urges big COVID bill | Biden's SEC pick sidelined as GameStop drama unfolds | Bezos stepping down as Amazon CEO

On The Money: Biden calls Dems, urges big COVID bill | Biden's SEC pick sidelined as GameStop drama unfolds | Bezos stepping down as Amazon CEO
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THE BIG DEAL—Biden calls Democrats, urges big COVID-19 relief bill: President Biden urged Senate Democrats in a call Tuesday to “go big” and move quickly on a COVID-19 relief bill, signaling that he is rejecting a $618 billion proposal sponsored by 10 GOP senators as “too small” even though he is open to some of their ideas.

“It was clear,” said Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineSenators reintroduce bill to block NATO withdrawal Democrats back up Biden bid to return to Iran nuclear deal Overnight Defense: Congress looks to rein in Biden's war powers | Diversity chief at Special Operations Command reassigned during probe into social media posts MORE (D-Va.) after the call. “Go big and be prompt because the American public is really hurting and really needs this.”

The Hill’s Alexander Bolton brings us up to speed.

Recapping the call: 

The takeaway: Democrats are making overtures to Republican colleagues to get them on board, but won’t hold out for a bipartisan deal if one isn’t close. Shortly after the call, the Senate voted 50-49 on a motion to proceed to a budget resolution that will include reconciliation instructions to allow a large COVID-19 relief package to pass without any Republican votes. 

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Read more on the push for a coronavirus relief deal: 

LEADING THE DAY

Biden's SEC pick sidelined as GameStop drama unfolds: President Biden’s choice to be the top cop on Wall Street has been left sitting on the sidelines as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) faces growing pressure to sort out the GameStop stock frenzy.

A logjam in approving Biden’s Cabinet picks has delayed Gary GenslerGary GenslerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring On The Money: Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC | Senate GOP to face off over earmarks next week | Top Republican on House tax panel to retire Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC MORE’s potential confirmation as SEC chairman, leaving the regulator without a permanent leader to bridge a partisan 2-2 split on its board.

The context: 

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  • Lawmakers in both parties are calling on the SEC to take action after Reddit-driven stock rallies roiled the financial sector and forced several major investing companies to restrict customers’ trades.
  • While the SEC said last week it will investigate the fallout, Democrats and Republicans are set to dial up the political heat in two congressional hearings on the state of the stock market.

The GameStop saga will likely be the primary focus of Gensler’s hearing, and further delays could hamstring how much the SEC can respond to political pressure.

“This is not funneling capital to its best and highest uses to drive our economy. That’s not what’s going on here. And if you’re the SEC, that has to be your fundamental concern,” said Tyler Gellasch, executive director of Healthy Markets, an advocacy group that supports greater transparency in financial markets.

I break it down here.

Read more: 

Bezos stepping down as Amazon CEO: Amazon announced Tuesday that CEO Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosUnion leader: 'Amazon left no stone unturned' in unionization fight Bezos to Amazon shareholders: 'We need to do a better job for employees' Advocacy groups say tech giants need to 'step it up' on sustainability MORE will be stepping down from his top spot and transitioning to the role of executive chair of the company's board.

Bezos will transition out of his role in the third quarter of 2021, the company said while announcing its quarterly earning report from the end of last year. Andy Jassy, the current head of Amazon Web Services (AWS), will succeed Bezos as CEO of the e-commerce giant.

In the report, Amazon announced its highest quarterly revenue ever, at $125 billion. Bezos touted the success at the end of last year in announcing his decision to step down as CEO, calling it the “optimal time for transition.”

The Hill’s Rebecca Klar has more here.

GOOD TO KNOW

ODDS AND ENDS