On The Money: Biden to unveil $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan with more stimulus checks | Plan would extend jobless benefits, raise minimum wage | Regulator finalizes rule forcing banks to serve oil, gun companies

On The Money: Biden to unveil $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan with more stimulus checks | Plan would extend jobless benefits, raise minimum wage | Regulator finalizes rule forcing banks to serve oil, gun companies

Happy Thursday and welcome back to On The Money. 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 to unveil $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan with more stimulus checks: President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenCotton: Senate lacks authority to hold impeachment trial once Trump leaves office Marjorie Taylor Greene says she will introduce impeachment articles against Biden ICE acting director resigns weeks after assuming post MORE on Thursday will unveil a $1.9 trillion package to provide economic relief to Americans and businesses and help fund an ambitious coronavirus vaccine program with the goal of reaching 100 million doses by the end of his first 100 days in office. 

Biden will unveil the package in an address Thursday evening from Wilmington, Del., six days before he will be inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States and his administration takes over the federal government’s response to COVID-19. 

Biden’s plan will include $415 billion focused on fighting COVID-19, upwards of $1 trillion on direct aid to individuals and families and another $440 billion in aid to businesses, according to senior officials with the incoming Biden administration who briefed reporters on the package. 

The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant and Niv Elis break it down here.

Economic relief:

  • The plan would provide $1,400 in additional stimulus checks, bringing the combined total with the $600 payment approved in December to $2,000, extend key unemployment programs from mid-March through the end of September and increase weekly additional unemployment payments from $300 to $400. 
  • It would also gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, representing the first such increase since 2009.
  • The package would increase the amount of the child tax credit and allow the lowest-income families to receive the full amount, increase paid sick and family leave policies, extend the eviction moratoriums and provide $30 billion in rental assistance funds.

Coronavirus response: 

  • Biden’s proposal includes roughly $415 billion to help address the public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including $20 billion to set up a national vaccination program and create community vaccination centers across the country to quickly inoculate Americans. 

LEADING THE DAY

Regulator finalizes rule forcing banks to serve oil, gun companies: The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) on Thursday finalized a controversial rule banning large banks from rejecting businesses based on their industry.

The move comes less than two months after the agency first proposed the regulations.

  • The rule makes it illegal for any bank regulated by the OCC with more than $100 billion in assets to reject a customer for reasons other than financial risk. 
  • Supporters and critics of the rule both say it is intended to prevent more banks from joining those who’ve stopped serving firearm companies and financing oil and gas drilling projects.

I’ll walk you through the regulations here.

The background: 

  • The OCC first proposed its fair access rule on Nov. 19 to praise from Republicans, who’ve fiercely criticized several major banks that dropped clients in the firearm industry or pledged to stop funding Arctic drilling projects.
  • The agency argued that the rule upholds the OCC’s obligation “to ensure fair access to financial services, and fair treatment of customers” by banks under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.
  • Democrats, however, argue that the Dodd-Frank fair access principles are meant to protect people of color and low income communities who’ve faced decades of banking discrimination — not powerful corporations with ample financial sector options.
  • Bank industry groups have also condemned the OCC rule as an unnecessary intrusion into decisions made by private businesses. 

What happens next: The fair access rule is set to take effect April 1, but the Biden administration likely has several options to prevent that from happening. Biden is expected to appoint a new acting comptroller on Jan. 20 while his nominee to lead the OCC awaits Senate confirmation. A new acting comptroller can likely delay when the rule takes effect so the OCC can revise it or scrap it altogether. 

Jobless claims spike to 965,000: Jobless claims in the first full week of January spiked to a seasonally adjusted 965,000, a 23 percent increase from the previous week, and the highest weekly amount since August.

The increase in jobless claims follows a December jobs report that showed the economy shedding jobs, putting the recovery of the labor market in reverse. Economists had expected 800,000 new unemployment claims last week.

“This is bad news for the economy heading into 2021,” said Cailin Birch, global economist at The Economist Intelligence Unit. “The fact that benefits claims are increasing suggests that the economy may lose jobs again in January, as the number of coronavirus cases continues to surge, weighing heavily on businesses.” Niv Elis explains here.

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) lost her seat on the House Financial Services Committee after House Democratic leaders on Thursday rejected her request for a waiver to serve on the Financial Services panel and other committees simultaneously, two House Democratic sources told The Hill.
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday that the flood of fiscal and monetary support provided to fight the coronavirus recession could help the U.S. economy recover to its pre-pandemic strength “much sooner” than expected.
  • Reuters: “The Treasury Department announced on Thursday it was overhauling its stake in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, charting a course for the housing giants to slowly rebuild their capital with an eye towards eventually letting them issue public stock and escape government control.”

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Google announced Thursday that it has completed its acquisition of health wearables company Fitbit.
  • Connecticut is probing Amazon’s e-book distribution for potential anticompetitive behavior, according to the state’s attorney general.