Overnight Finance

On The Money — Biden puts oil industry on notice

Associated Press/Evan Vucci

Happy Wednesday and welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Today’s Big Deal: President Biden is pushing for a probe of high gas prices. We’ll also look at the House’s prospects for a Friday vote on the Build Back Better plan and a very angry letter from former President Trump.

But first, Ciara 1-2-stepped up to the podium in the White House briefing room today.

For The Hill, I’m Sylvan Lane. Write me at slane@thehill.com or @SylvanLane. You can reach my colleagues on the Finance team Naomi Jagoda at njagoda@thehill.com or @NJagoda and Aris Folley at afolley@thehill.com or @ArisFolley.

Let’s get to it.


President calls for gas prices probe 

President Biden is asking the head of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to look into whether oil companies are illegally increasing prices as consumers face high costs at the pump.

“The Federal Trade Commission has authority to consider whether illegal conduct is costing families at the pump. I believe you should do so immediately,” Biden wrote in a letter to FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan on Wednesday.

“Prices at the pump have continued to rise, even as refined fuel costs go down and industry profits go up,” he added. “In the last month, the price of unfinished gasoline is down more than 5 percent while gas prices at the pump are up 3 percent in that same period. This unexplained large gap between the price of unfinished gasoline and the average price at the pump is well above the pre-pandemic average.”

The background: 

  • Biden said that oil and gas companies in the U.S. are generating significant profits from the higher cost of energy, noting that two of the largest oil and gas companies in the U.S. are on track to nearly double their net income over 2019.
  • Gas prices rose 6.1 percent in October, according to the Labor Department, with prices about 24 percent higher than they were during the same month in 2019.

The Hill’s Alex Gangitano and Rachel Frazin have more here.



Democrats see Friday vote as likely for Biden bill

House Democrats are eyeing a Friday vote on the $1.75 trillion climate and social benefits package at the heart of President Biden’s domestic policy agenda.

  • Party leaders are racing to approve the bill and send it to the Senate before the weeklong Thanksgiving recess, which begins this weekend, and some are still floating the idea that the legislation could receive a vote as early as Thursday.
  • But members of the Democratic whip team, after huddling with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other party leaders in the Capitol basement Wednesday morning, emerged predicting the vote is more likely to come Friday.

Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, left open the possibility that the vote could still happen Thursday — depending on when a series of cost estimates emerge from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

“The fulcrum is just waiting for the CBO score, which has been suggested that could be maybe tomorrow,” Neal said. “We’re on the precipice.”

Mike Lillis takes us there.

Read more: Manchin signals he’s okay with Biden spending vote this year



Safety agency suspends enforcement of vaccine mandate for businesses

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is suspending enforcement of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for large private businesses after a federal appeals court upheld a stay on it last week.

OSHA said in a statement published on its website that while it is confident in its power to protect workers amid the pandemic, it is suspending activities related to the mandate, citing the pending litigation.

“The court ordered that OSHA ‘take no steps to implement or enforce’ the ETS [Emergency Temporary Standard] ‘until further court order.’ While OSHA remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies, OSHA has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS pending future developments in the litigation,” OSHA said.

Virtual Event Announcement—America’s Economic Recovery—Thursday, November 18 at 1:00 PM ET 

Rising consumer prices, product shortages and labor inconsistencies are rattling the U.S. economic recovery. Yet, the economy has created over four million jobs this year and wages continue to rise. What role will consumers and businesses play in economic recovery and how will they emerge from the downturn? What is the domestic growth forecast for next year? Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.), Rep. Dave Schweikert (R-Ariz.), ADP Chief Economist Dr. Nela Richardson and Princeton economist Janet Currie join The Hill’s Steve Clemons for a discussion on the new economic landscape and the changing labor force. RSVP today.


Trump gives McConnell insult-filled ultimatum on Biden agenda

Former President Trump ripped into Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) once again on Wednesday, giving the leader an invective-filled ultimatum to stand firm against raising the debt ceiling and keep his conference unified against President Biden’s spending agenda. 

Trump blasted his former Senate ally as “stupid” and a “fool” and accused him of “incompetence” in a long, tangled statement that jumped from expressing displeasure over Republican votes on a procedural motion related to raising the debt limit in October, to Congress’s passage of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill this month, to the ongoing Democratic talks over a social spending bill. 

Trump’s scathing statement follows several similar attacks in recent days in which he lashed out at “Old Crow” McConnell for voting for the hard infrastructure bill along with 18 other Senate Republicans and 13 House Republicans.

Alexander Bolton fills us in.

Good to Know

A surge in consumer prices is putting pressure on household budgets, derailing confidence in the economy and weighing on President Biden’s approval rating — but it’s not stopping Americans from a shopping spree as the holidays approach.

Here’s what else have our eye on:

  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on Wednesday that he is setting up a meeting with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to talk about inflation. 
  • The U.S. shouldn’t worry excessively about high inflation and the rising costs of products because they will settle within a year, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics argued in a CNN opinion column.
  • A group of more than 200 public health experts sent a letter to Amazon Wednesday calling on the company to improve its workplace conditions ahead of the holiday shopping season.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden Joe Manchin Lina Khan Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Richard Neal

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