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On The Money: Biden says workers can't turn down job and get benefits | Treasury launches state and local aid | Businesses jump into vax push

On The Money: Biden says workers can't turn down job and get benefits | Treasury launches state and local aid | Businesses jump into vax push
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Happy Monday and welcome back to On The Money, where we’re sorry about your Dogecoin. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL—Biden: Workers can't turn down job and get benefits: President BidenJoe BidenMellman: Trump voters cling to 2020 tale FDA authorizes another batch of J&J vaccine Cotton warns of China collecting athletes' DNA at 2022 Olympics MORE announced Monday that his administration would affirm that workers cannot turn down a "suitable" job they are offered and continue to take federal unemployment benefits.

“We’re going to make it clear that anyone who is collecting unemployment who is offered a suitable job must take the job or lose their unemployment benefits,” Biden said in remarks on the economy from the East Room, noting there would be “a few COVID-19-related exceptions” to the guidance.

The background: The disappointing April jobs report released Friday helped fuel a Republican push to end enhanced unemployment aid programs extended by Biden in March.

  • The Republican governors of Montana, South Carolina, and Arkansas all pulled out of pandemic unemployment programs.
  • Several GOP lawmakers have introduced legislation to end the enhanced UI at the end of the month and convert it into a back-to-work bonus program. 

While Biden and Democrats have denied the impact of enhanced jobless aid on the numbers, they’re nonetheless taking actions to help bring more people back to work.

What’s changing: 

“Some months will exceed expectations, others will fall short. The question is, what is the trend line? Are we headed in the right direction? Are we taking the right steps to keep it going? And the answer is, clearly, yes,” Biden said Monday. The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant has more here.

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The political risks: One jobs report is just one jobs report and a great May number could put a lot of concerns to bed. Even so, any apparent setback in the recovery poses challenges for Biden and Democrats as they attempt to pass trillions more in economic investments through Congress.

Republicans were already opposed to Biden’s infrastructure plans, but last month’s lackluster job gains are giving GOP lawmakers a new line of attack that they are hoping will resonate with voters. The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda explains here.

LEADING THE DAY

Treasury opens applications for $350 billion state and local aid program: The Treasury Department on Monday launched the process of distributing $350 billion in aid for state and local governments allocated through the COVID-19 relief bill signed by President Biden in March. 

The department on Monday opened up an application portal for state and local governments to apply for funding meant to protect crucial public services and the jobs of those who provide them.

“We know that when state and local governments were contracting, we know that they cut back on education, they cut back on higher education, they did not have the funds for additional housing assistance. All of those things prevented the recovery from being as equitable as we would have liked,” said Gene Sperling, White House American Rescue Plan coordinator, in a call with reporters.

“It's about taking every step possible to ensure ... that we have a recovery that brings everyone along, that increases not just growth, but dignity and security and opportunity.”

  • State and local governments can apply for aid to cover vaccination programs; COVID-19 prevention, tracking, containment and treatment; and investments in treating and responding to the pandemic. 
  • Aid can also be used to cover medical treatment for mental health, substance use disorders and other crises exacerbated by the pandemic.
  • For economic relief, the aid can be used for direct payments to workers and households, additional pay for front-line workers and first responders, small business aid, replenishing unemployment insurance trust funds and programs for hard-hit industries. 

I have more here.

Businesses jumping into vaccination effort see it as win-win: Businesses are getting more involved with the fight against the coronavirus by offering incentives for people to get vaccinated in a move they see as helping both public health and their bottom lines.

  • From a financial perspective, the marketing efforts involving vaccinations give companies a way to bring in more customers or get regular customers spending more. 
  • Those moves are coinciding with a slowdown in vaccination rates that employers would rather see increase so that states will lift more of their COVID-19 restrictions.

“Businesses in the private sector absolutely have an important role to play in this, and they're able to engage people in different and at times more substantive ways than the government and public health messengers right now,” said Andrew Jarrell, chief strategy officer at the communications firm Group Gordon.

“The smart ones and the ones that are doing the right thing will really embrace and play that role and in a way that obviously makes sense for them and for their constituents,” he added. 

The Hill’s Alex Gangitano and I break it down here.

ON TAP TOMORROW:

  • The Senate Banking Committee holds a confirmation hearing on the nominations of Adrianne Todman to be deputy secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Nuria Fernandez to be Federal Transit Administrator at 10 a.m.
  • A Senate Finance subcommittee holds a hearing on offshore tax evasion at 2:30 p.m.
  • A Senate Commerce subcommittee holds a hearing on strengthening U.S. supply chains at 2:30 p.m.

GOOD TO KNOW

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Amazon blocked more than 10 billion listings as part of its push toward driving out counterfeit products, the e-commerce giant said Monday. 
  • Op-Ed: “Keeping fintech's promise: A modest proposal”