Overnight Finance

On The Money — House votes to limit trade ties with Russia, Belarus

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. Subscribe here.

Today’s Big Deal: The House advanced a bill meant to further isolate Russia from the global economy. We’ll also look at a historic moment in the White House and the future of additional COVID-19 aid.

For The Hill, we’re Sylvan Lane, Aris Folley and Karl Evers-Hillstrom. Reach us at slane@thehill.comafolley@thehill.com and kevers@thehill.com.

Let’s get to it.

Lawmakers seek to limit trade with Russia, Belarus

The House on Thursday passed a bill to end normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus as the U.S. and its allies tighten the economic vice on the Kremlin.

  • Lawmakers voted 424 to 8 in favor of legislation to raise tariffs on goods from Russia and Belarus and give President Biden power to impose even stricter import taxes on their exports amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The eight lawmakers who voted against the bill are all Republicans.
  • The bill also sets up strict guidelines for when the president can restore normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus based on the state of the Ukraine war. 
  • The Biden administration will additionally be obligated to push for Russia’s removal from the World Trade Organization and oppose Belarus joining the group, which would subject both to higher tariffs and steeper trade barriers.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday he plans to get the bill to Biden’s desk as soon as possible.

The background: Biden has faced a careful balancing act while helping to lead a coalition of countries behind unprecedented economic sanctions on Russia.

  • Lawmakers in both parties have pressured the White House to impose increasingly strict penalties on Russia, often beyond the initial comfort level of Biden and his European allies.
  • Members of Congress have successfully pushed Biden away from his previous resistance to stricter penalties on the Russian financial system and an embargo on Russian oil, saying the domestic cost is worth defending Ukraine.

Sylvan has more here.



Pelosi says White House should request $45B in new COVID-19 aid 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday said she’s advised the Biden administration to seek tens of billions of dollars more in emergency COVID-19 relief, suggesting it will take more than $40 billion to meet the testing, vaccine and therapeutic needs of the U.S. and the larger global community.

President Biden had initially asked Congress for $22.5 billion in new funding to fight the ongoing pandemic — a figure that was whittled down to $15.6 billion in the face of Republican opposition on Capitol Hill.

  • Pelosi on Thursday said that even the larger $22.5 billion figure was too small, arguing it would provide relief only through the early part of the summer before Congress would need to approve more.
  • Pelosi said on Monday she hoped to vote this week on more funding, but a senior Democratic aide said Thursday that negotiators won’t meet that timeline, as the House is still working to reach agreement with the Senate on acceptable offsets.

Mike Lillis has more on Pelosi’s statement here



Harris swears in Shalanda Young as White House budget chief in historic first 

Vice President Harris swore in senior adviser and longtime congressional aide Shalanda Young as the head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Thursday, making her the first Black woman in history to assume the Cabinet position.

Young was sworn in during a ceremony two days after the Senate voted to confirm her to the role and almost a year after she was first installed as acting director of the OMB, which oversees execution of the government’s budget.

  • Her confirmation makes her the fifth Black woman to be named to Biden’s Cabinet and joins several history-making additions to the body, including Harris, who is the first Black American, South Asian American and woman to serve in the nation’s No. 2 position.
  • Young’s experience spans years on the House Appropriations Committee, including as a Democratic staff director, clerk and deputy staff director, among other roles. During her time with the panel, the White House said Young oversaw $1.3 trillion annual appropriations legislation, disaster aid and “major aspects of COVID-19 related spending.”

President Biden announced plans to nominate Young to the role in November, as the official had also drawn the backing of top Democratic leaders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.).

Her nomination was endorsed by the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as by Republicans like Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Aris has more here



Airlines experience boom in ticket sales following omicron dip 

Airlines are looking forward to their best year since the start of the pandemic, despite surging fuel prices that will make it more expensive to fly.

Industry executives this week touted an explosion of bookings and expressed optimism that carriers’ worst days are behind them. The top airlines are enjoying a huge bump in demand as low numbers of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. boost traveler confidence.

  • Delta Air Lines President Glen Hauenstein said that the company is seeing an “unparalleled” increase in demand, revealing that the airline experienced its best day of sales in its 100-year history last week.
  • The uptick in demand, along with higher fuel prices and relatively low capacity, will lead to price hikes for plane tickets, so experts are urging travelers to book their summer trips now.

By the numbers: Last month, domestic flight bookings surpassed pre-pandemic levels for the first time, according to a recent report from Adobe Digital Insights. Travelers spent $6.6 billion on flights in February, an increase of 6 percent from the same month in 2019.

Karl tells us why.


Good to Know

Koch Industries is continuing its operations in Russia as dozens of other companies have pulled out of the country due to the war in Ukraine.

Although the company denounced the “horrific and abhorrent aggression against Ukraine,” Koch Industries will not “walk away from our employees there or hand over these manufacturing facilities to the Russian government so it can operate and benefit from them.”

Here’s what else we have our eye on:

  • The 30-year fixed mortgage rate in the U.S. exceeded 4 percent on Thursday for the first time since May 2019 after the Federal Reserve hiked rates.
  • The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimated that the global gross domestic product will decrease by 1 percent as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • A key GOP senator said that Republicans will want to add language codifying a ban on Russian oil imports into a House-passed bill to end normal trade relations with Moscow.

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 Charles Schumer Joe Biden Nancy Pelosi Richard Shelby Shalanda Young Steny Hoyer

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