On The Money — Vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses nixed
Happy Tuesday 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: The Biden administration is formally ending its vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers. We’ll also give a sneak peak of President Biden’s meeting with CEOs to promote the Build Back Better plan and explore the stock market’s wild ride.
Let’s get to it.
Biden officials withdraw business mandate
The Biden administration on Tuesday said it is withdrawing its vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses with at least 100 employees after the Supreme Court earlier this month blocked the requirement from being enforced, ruling that it was a federal overreach.
Given the Supreme Court’s decision, the Biden administration filed a motion on Tuesday to have the existing lawsuits that were filed against the employer vaccine mandate dismissed. Twenty-seven Republican-led states and a coalition of businesses had brought those legal challenges against the mandate.
The Biden administration said that it would be withdrawing the mandate, effective on Wednesday, asking for the existing lawsuits against it to be considered moot.
- The Supreme Court sent the case back to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, where the legal battle will formally come to an end.
- A Labor Department spokesperson said in a statement that the ruling would not affect the mandate’s status as a proposed rule, but added that the agency has not decided whether to finalize a permanent vaccine-or-test rule.
- The mandate was expected to apply to 84 million people, and officials said that it would protect thousands of workers from hospitalization or death.
Business groups that sued to block the rule expressed concern that unvaccinated workers would leave their jobs rather than comply with the mandate, and that companies would struggle to find enough COVID-19 tests for their workers.
The Hill’s Caroline Vakil has more on the withdrawal here.
Biden hosts CEOs to push Build Back Better
President Biden is set to meet with several corporate executives on Wednesday at the White House to discuss his Build Back Better proposal, a White House official told The Hill on Tuesday.
The meeting includes CEOs who support passing Build Back Better, according to the official, and Biden is expected to discuss with them how the agenda “will make the U.S. economy more competitive, increase worker productivity and workforce participation, lower inflation over the long-term, and strengthen business growth.”
The meeting, which is slated to be in-person, will include General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Ford CEO Jim Farley, Microsoft President Brad Smith and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.
- Farley, CEO of Ford, said in a statement that he is looking forward to meeting with Biden about the plan for the U.S. to lead the global transition to zero-emissions transportation.
- General Motors, whose CEO will also be in the meeting, unveiled a nearly $7 billion investment in EV manufacturing sites in Michigan on Tuesday, a move Biden hailed as a sign of a “manufacturing comeback.”
- Other CEOs included in the meeting on Wednesday are Thasunda Brown Duckett of TIAA, Barbara Humpton of Siemens Corporation, Tom Linebarger of Cummins, Enrique Lores of HP, Josh Silverman of Etsy and Wendell Weeks of Corning.
The Hill’s Alex Gangitano has more here.
DOW TO THE WIRE
Stocks close with losses despite another Dow rebound
The stock market closed with losses Tuesday after a second straight session of wild swings.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed with a loss of 0.2 percent, falling 66 points after sinking by roughly 800 points earlier Tuesday.
- The Nasdaq composite closed with a much steeper loss of 2.3 percent while the S&P 500 index fell 1.2 percent on the day.
Wall Street has been roiled by volatility this week after taking steady losses earlier in the month. All three major indexes closed with slight gains Monday after the Dow came back from a 1,000-point loss and both the Nasdaq and S&P erased declines of roughly 4 percent.
JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, said the Dow likely avoided steeper losses Tuesday thanks to many companies in the index reporting strong earnings. He added that widespread market volatility was likely driven by declining consumer confidence.
IMF issues warning on bitcoin
The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) executive board warned El Salvador against moving to make bitcoin a legal tender and called for “strict regulation and oversight of the new ecosystem.”
“They [the board members] stressed that there are large risks associated with the use of Bitcoin on financial stability, financial integrity, and consumer protection, as well as the associated fiscal contingent liabilities,” the board said in a statement.
- The nation in September became the first to adopt the cryptocurrency as a legal tender, which required businesses to accept bitcoin as a legal payment.
- The move prompted the IMF board to repeatedly recommend that El Salvador reverse the decision, citing concerns over the economy and legal issues. In addition, some members expressed concern about the “risks associated with issuing Bitcoin-backed bonds,” the statement said.
The Hill’s Rachel Scully has more here.
Good to Know
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is pressing fast-food restaurant McDonald’s to start accepting cryptocurrency Dogecoin, days after he announced Tesla will start accepting it as payment for some of the company’s merchandise.
Here’s what else we have our eye on:
- The Hill’s Sharon Udasin and Rachel Frazin are out with the first in a four-part series exploring “forever chemicals” and the legal battle for those who have experienced contamination.
- The Commerce Department in a report issued Tuesday highlighted the severity of the computer chip shortage, saying the current supply shortage could lead to closures at manufacturing facilities if not properly addressed.
- A leading Democrat on the House Oversight and Reform Committee is pressing the four largest U.S. meat processing companies on the recent rise in meat prices.
- Berkshire Hathaway is planning to hold its shareholders meeting in person in April, the first time the annual gathering will occur in person since the pandemic began.
- Consumer goods company Unilever announced Tuesday that it will be cutting 1,500 management jobs companywide.
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 Wednesday.
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