On The Money — Support for new COVID-19 relief grows
Happy Monday 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: Lawmakers say support has been building for legislation aimed at supporting businesses that have been disproportionately hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.
We’ll also look at a group of 27 House members calling on leadership to bring up a bill barring lawmakers from trading stocks.
But first, did you see what President Biden was caught calling Fox News reporter Peter Doocy on a hot microphone earlier after he asked a question about inflation?
Let’s get to it.
Momentum builds for business aid
Momentum is building on Capitol Hill for more coronavirus relief funding to support restaurants and other businesses struggling to stay afloat in the face of the latest wave of the pandemic fueled by the omicron variant.
Lawmakers involved in negotiations say support has been building among members for legislation aimed at supporting businesses that have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), chair of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and a leader in discussions on the matter, expressed optimism when discussing his efforts with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) to gain more backing for the push among their colleagues.
- Cardin said the primary focus in talks has been to replenish relief funding for restaurants after a previous batch of funds allocated by Congress ran out months back.
- The funding would come at a crucial time, advocates say, as restaurants continue to grapple with the economic effects of the ongoing pandemic, particularly as staffing shortages persist in parts of the nation and inflation tacks on to food costs.
- Lawmakers have also been considering providing relief to various businesses that advocates and experts say have been hit hard by the pandemic and will continue to face more pressures as it drags on, including gyms and performance venues.
“We are continuing to try to get broader support,” Cardin told The Hill before adding he thinks lawmakers are “pretty close” to securing the necessary support for the push.
Aris has more here.
Related: Restaurants ask Congress for more aid as omicron ravages industry
TO THE FLOOR?
Lawmakers urge Pelosi to bring stock trading ban to the floor
A group of 27 House members on Monday called on Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to swiftly bring a bill to bar lawmakers from trading stocks to the House floor.
“There is no reason that members of Congress need to be allowed to trade stocks when we should be focused on doing our jobs and serving our constituents,” the lawmakers, led by Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine), wrote in a letter to House leaders.
“Perhaps this means some of our colleagues will miss out on lucrative investment opportunities. We don’t care. We came to Congress to serve our country, not turn a quick buck.”
- The lawmakers pointed to the Ban Conflicted Trading Act, which would prevent members of Congress and their immediate family from trading stocks, and the TRUST in Congress Act, which blocks stock trading by lawmakers and their senior staffers.
- Twenty-five House Democrats signed on to Monday’s letter, along with two Republicans: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.) and Matt Gaetz (Fla.).
- The letter comes after Pelosi told reporters last week that she wouldn’t block a stock trading bill if it gets enough support, a reversal from her previous stance.
Karl has more on the push here.
Stocks rally to close with gains
Stocks clawed back to finish above water Monday after all three major indexes plunged earlier in the day.
- The Nasdaq composite closed with a gain of 0.6 percent after falling nearly 5 percent after the market opened Monday.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average reversed a 1,000-point intraday loss to close up 100 points
- The S&P 500 index closed with a gain of 0.3 percent after plunging roughly 4 percent.
What happened: Monday’s remarkable comeback came after weeks of steady losses across the stock market driven by a range of health and geopolitical threats to the economy and the prospect of higher interest rates.
- Stocks fell steadily last week as investors began to grapple with the COVID-19 omicron variant’s throttling of the economic recovery, looming Federal Reserve interest rate hikes and potential blowback from a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
- The Federal Open Market Committee — the Fed’s monetary policy panel — is set to meet Tuesday and Wednesday before announcing its views on the state of the economy.
- While the Fed is not expected to hike interest rates Wednesday, any future plans laid out by the panel or Fed Chairman Jerome Powell in a press conference could shape the rest of the week for the market.
Sylvan breaks it down here.
IT’S TAX TIME
IRS warns of ‘frustrating’ refund delays as tax-filing season kicks off
IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig warned Americans they could face delays receiving their 2021 tax refunds as the filing season kicked off Monday amid serious challenges for the agency.
In a Monday call with reporters, Retting urged Americans to begin preparing their taxes well ahead of the deadline, set up a direct deposit system with the IRS and file their returns electronically to avoid delays.
The background: Rettig said the IRS is facing significantly more work with insufficient staff and outdated technology — two long-standing headaches for the revenue collection agency exacerbated by the pandemic.
The IRS was in charge of sending out the third round of stimulus checks, an expanded child tax credit and earned income tax credit all enacted through President Biden’s $1.9 trillion March stimulus bill. The agency is also facing a backlog of unprocessed 2020 tax returns.
Sylvan explains here how to make sure your refund comes as soon as possible.
Good to Know
An omicron-driven surge of COVID-19 is hindering the economic recovery from the pandemic.
The swift, record-shattering spike in coronavirus cases has dampened consumer activity, spurred layoffs and forced millions of Americans out of work to take care of themselves or a sick family member.
Private sector data on dining and travel, rising weekly jobless claims, widespread staffing issues and school closures is pointing to dismal January job gains and slower first-quarter growth.
Here’s what else we have our eye on:
- Lawmakers and advocates who have pushed for President Biden to act on student loan forgiveness were left frustrated and disappointed this week when he didn’t answer a reporter’s question on the issue.
- Biden on Monday said his administration is taking on anti-competitive practices, pointing to enforcement against illegal repair restrictions, actions for hearing aids to be sold over the counter, and ramped-up efforts to scrutinize mergers.
- The attorneys general of three states and Washington, D.C., are filing lawsuits Monday alleging that Google deceived consumers into giving up their location data.
- Billionaire Mark Cuban launched an online pharmacy on Monday in what the company said was a bid to “drastically expand access to affordable pharmaceuticals.”
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 Tuesday.
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