A bipartisan group of moderate lawmakers circulated details about their $908 billion stimulus compromise but was still struggling to reach agreement on crucial details, as congressional leaders remained at odds on an economic relief plan to address the pandemic.
The moderates’ six-page framework, which was obtained by The New York Times, said the group had an “agreement in principle” for providing $160 billion to state and local governments and offering liability protections to businesses “as the basis for good faith negotiations,” but it omitted any substantive details about how to address the thorniest impediments to their agreement.
The lack of specifics underscored the remaining hurdles for the group, led by Senators Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, as it works to strike a deal in the coming days. Yet there is no guarantee that their plan will advance. Democratic leaders have called it a starting point for negotiations, but Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has not endorsed it. And the Trump administration presented its own $916 billion proposal on Tuesday with notable differences.
Mr. McConnell had suggested earlier Tuesday that Democrats drop their demand for funding for state and local governments in exchange for Republicans dropping their insistence on including a liability shield for businesses, but his idea was immediately rejected by Democrats. And the administration proposal offered by Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, contained both.
The moderates’ framework would revive a lapsed weekly federal unemployment benefit at $300 a week for 16 weeks, from the end of December to April, and extend a series of unemployment programs set to expire at the end of the month.
It notably does not include another round of stimulus checks, which some lawmakers — including Senators Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, and Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri — have lobbied for in recent days. Mr. Mnuchin’s proposal would include a $600 stimulus check for each American, but would not revive the supplemental unemployment benefit.
The original $2.2 trillion stimulus law enacted in March distributed $1,200 stimulus checks and established the enhanced unemployment benefits at $600 a week through July, which President Trump later extended unilaterally at $300 a week for most workers.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, urged Republicans to allow bipartisan talks to move forward, calling them the best opportunity for compromise.
In response, Mr. McConnell slammed the two Democrats for rejecting both the White House offer and his overture on Tuesday, his first major concession since efforts to reach agreement on another coronavirus relief deal began.
“At every turn, they have delayed, deflected, moved the goal posts, and made the huge number of places where Congress agrees into a hostage of the few places we do not,” Mr. McConnell said.
The moderates’ plan would repurpose money Mr. Mnuchin clawed back from the Federal Reserve and leftover funds in the expired Paycheck Protection Program and allow small businesses to receive another loan from the popular small-business program. It would provide $10 billion to child care providers, $25 billion in rental assistance, $82 billion for education providers, $6 billion for vaccine development and distribution and $7 billion for state, local and tribal governments to conduct testing and tracing.
To give negotiators additional time to reach agreement both on a stimulus deal and the dozen annual spending bills, the House on Wednesday was expected to approve a one-week stopgap measure to postpone the threat of a government shutdown on Friday, setting a new deadline of Dec. 18.
Boeing’s 737 Max returned to the skies on Wednesday for its first passenger flight since being grounded nearly two years ago.
The flight, operated by Gol, a Brazilian carrier, left São Paulo at 8:41 a.m., according to Cirium and FlightRadar24, two aviation data services. It landed little over an hour later in Pôrto Alegre. The plane was delivered to Gol in the summer of 2018 and has logged about 2,500 hours of flight time since, according to Cirium.
A Gol spokeswoman declined to comment on the flight, though the airline had announced plans to use the plane starting Wednesday. Gol had said its first Max flights would depart from or arrive at the company’s hub in São Paulo. By the end of the month, the airline expects all seven of its Max planes to be cleared to fly again.
American Airlines is expected to be the first U.S. carrier to put the Max back into service when it starts a short run of daily flights between New York and Miami at the end of this month.
United Airlines on Tuesday received its first new Max since the Federal Aviation Administration last month lifted an order grounding the plane it had put in place in March 2019. The plane is the first of eight Boeing is expected to deliver before the end of the year.
“Nothing is more important to United than the safety of our customers and employees, and as we begin receiving 737 Max deliveries from Boeing, we will inspect every aircraft, require our pilots to undergo additional training reviewed and approved by the F.A.A., and conduct test flights before we bring these aircraft back into service,” the airline said in a statement.
United expects to start Max flights in the first three months of next year. Southwest Airlines, a major Boeing customer, has said it doesn’t expect to restart flights until the second quarter. Delta Air Lines does not fly the Max.
The national oil company of Abu Dhabi said Wednesday that it had signed an oil and gas exploration deal with the Houston-based Occidental Petroleum, a move that highlights the ambitions of the United Arab Emirates to extract more income from its vast energy resources.
An exploration agreement is unlikely to translate into production for some time. But Abu Dhabi accounts for nearly all of the oil production of the United Arab Emirates, and the emirates’ ambitions in oil and gas are bumping up against tight quotas set by OPEC intended to bolster markets during the pandemic.
The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company says it can produce four million barrels a day and plans to raise its capacity to five million barrels a day by 2030. At present, though, the U.A.E. is only pumping around 2.5 million barrels a day under the pact agreed upon with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers. The U.A.E. is the third-largest producer in OPEC after Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Tensions between the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s de facto leader, have emerged in recent months over the emirates’ exceeding its oil production quota during the summer and, during a recent series of producers’ meetings, over whether to increase production in January.
The deal with Occidental, a midsize producer, comes after Abu Dhabi has said it would seek a series of agreements with international companies to look for what could be billions of barrels of oil. Discoveries would help meet the emirate’s goals, but may also add to tensions within OPEC.
When Daimler made a surprise announcement in June that it would shutter a Smart car factory in France amid a plunge in orders because of the pandemic, workers prepared for a wave of layoffs.
But the factory is being saved by Ineos, a British chemicals firm that is expanding into the automotive business. Owned by the billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, Ineos finalized a deal with Daimler this week to take over the entire facility to make its new Grenadier, an off-road vehicle powered by a diesel engine.
The takeover will preserve 1,300 jobs in Hambach, a small town in eastern France where the Smart car factory had operated for more than two decades. The plant was opened in 1997 during a politically symbolic ceremony of cooperation between Germany and France by Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany and President Jacques Chirac of France, and was so vital to the region’s economy that the entire town was nicknamed Smartville.
That moniker will disappear with Ineos’s purchase of the factory, and the workers will begin preparing a portion of the site, which specialized in the environmentally friendly Smart ForTwo compact electric car, to make the Grenadier. The vehicle is a hulking four-wheel drive that Mr. Ratcliffe, an oil industry magnate with a penchant for investing in sports teams, had long sought to build inspired by the Land Rover.
But for a few more years, the plant will continue to make Smart cars, too. Under the deal, Daimler will subcontract to Ineos Smart production on a part of the factory line until 2024, as well as certain components of Mercedes-Benz. After that, Daimler will transfer Smart production to China, following an accord with Geely, the Chinese automaker that became Daimler’s biggest shareholder in 2018.
Daimler and Ineos did not disclose the financial terms of the transaction.
French workers at the Smart factory had taken pride in making an electric engine, but unions have said they are hoping that Ineos will eventually pivot the Grenadier to a less polluting engine.
For now, however, the most important issue is jobs. The French government this summer intervened in talks between Ineos and Daimler to demand that 1,500 jobs — at the site and with nearby suppliers — be preserved.
The deal is viewed as a victory for France. But it represents a loss of potential jobs in Britain and Portugal, where Mr. Ratcliffe had previously proposed building the Grenadier. Ineos has said that the Daimler factory proved more interesting because the vehicle could be built more quickly on an existing production line.
“This acquisition marks our biggest milestone yet in the development of the Grenadier,” Dirk Heilmann, chief executive of Ineos Automotive, said.
By: Ella Koeze·Source: Refinitiv
Stocks on Wall Street drifted from gains to losses on Wednesday, as negotiations over U.S. fiscal stimulus and post-Brexit trade between Britain and the European Union inched forward.
Both sets of talks have been mired in disagreement for weeks, however, and the moves in equity markets were muted. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said parts of the White House spending proposal were unacceptable. In Britain, officials are cautioning against assumptions that a Brexit deal is certain to be found.
On Tuesday, the White House proposed a $916 billion stimulus package, re-engaging with negotiations over pandemic economic relief. Lawmakers from both parties have said Congress needs to approve a spending package before this year’s session ends. The White House’s proposal includes direct payments to Americans, amounting to $600 per person.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain will meet with Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, later on Wednesday in an effort to loosen an impasse in trade talks. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said there was still a chance of a deal, and a British cabinet minister said there was room for compromise on a key sticking point: fishing rights.
The S&P 500 fell slightly, after giving up a small gain. The Stoxx Europe 600 index and the FTSE 100 in Britain were both higher, but also off their best levels of the day In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Japan climbed 1.3 percent, and the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong closed up 0.8 percent.
Britain said Tuesday that it would impose retaliatory tariffs on American aluminum and steel imports when it separated from the European Union on Jan. 1, but that it had decided to forgo any tariffs against the United States as part of a long-running trade dispute over aircraft subsidies.
The decision comes as Britain prepares to take over control of its own trade policy as it departs the European Union. The moves are an attempt to calm trade tensions with the United States and pave the way for their future trading relations, the British government said.
“Ultimately, we want to de-escalate the conflict and come to a negotiated settlement so we can deepen our trading relationship with the U.S. and draw a line under all this,” Liz Truss, Britain’s international trade secretary, said in a statement. “We are protecting our steel industry against illegal and unfair tariffs — and will continue to do so — but are also showing the U.S. we are serious about ending a dispute that benefits neither country.”
The tariffs on American aluminum and steel would be imposed in retaliation for President Trump’s decision in 2018 to place levies on metals from Europe and elsewhere. The European Union has already imposed retaliatory tariffs on American goods like steel bars, whiskey and orange juice, but with Britain now separating from the bloc, it will impose its own tariffs.
The United States and Europe have also placed tariffs on each other in response to twin trade cases at the World Trade Organization over airplane subsidies. One trade case authorized the United States to tax European goods to recoup losses sustained from subsidies the European Union provided to Airbus, while another case allowed Europe to put tariffs on the United States in response to subsidies given to Boeing.
Both sides have said they are interested in negotiating a settlement.
In its announcement, the British government said it would begin a process to consult with British businesses and ensure its tariffs on American metals were tailored to the British economy.
It said that it was suspending the Boeing tariffs “in an effort to bring the U.S. toward a reasonable settlement and show the U.K. is serious about reaching a negotiated outcome,” but that it reserved the right to impose tariffs again if such a compromise could not be reached.
The Senate on Tuesday confirmed a Trump administration lawyer to the Federal Communications Commission, a move that critics say could leave the agency deadlocked early next year as it confronts the digital divide widened by the pandemic.
Lawmakers voted 49-46 to approve the nomination of Nathan Simington, a Commerce Department lawyer who previously worked for the private sector. His confirmation to a five-year term makes it likely that the agency will be evenly divided by party during the first days of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s administration.
The agency’s chairman, Ajit Pai, a Republican, has said he will leave on Inauguration Day. That would leave the balance of the commission at two Republicans and two Democrats, making it difficult for Democrats to move forward with their agenda until Mr. Biden’s nominee is confirmed.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, said that the confirmation would leave an agency “that is gridlocked and dysfunctional” as it votes on proposals and would be a boon to major media and telecommunication companies.
Mr. Simington’s nomination has also been contentious because this year he worked on a petition by the Commerce Department that asked the F.C.C. to limit legal protections for social media platforms. Critics of Mr. Simington’s nomination worry that it is part of Mr. Trump’s larger campaign against the law, known as Section 230, set off by frustration with how social media platforms handle his posts.
FireEye, a top cybersecurity firm, revealed on Tuesday that its systems were pierced by what it called “a nation with top-tier offensive capabilities.” The company said hackers used “novel techniques” to make off with its own toolkit, which could be useful in mounting new attacks around the world. The $3.5 billion company, which partly makes a living by identifying the culprits in some of the world’s boldest breaches — its clients have included Sony and Equifax — declined to say explicitly who was responsible. But its description, and the fact that the F.B.I. has turned the case over to its Russia specialists, left little doubt who the lead suspects were.
Elon Musk said on Tuesday that he had moved to be near a new factory that Tesla is building outside Austin, Texas. Speaking at a conference hosted by The Wall Street Journal, he said California has become less accommodating to successful entrepreneurs and start-ups, comparing the state to a sports team that takes winning for granted. “They do tend to get a little complacent, a little entitled, and then they don’t win the championship anymore,” he said.
The Federal Trade Commission is suing to block Procter & Gamble’s proposed acquisition of Billie, a direct-to-consumer company that sells women’s razors and body care products. The F.T.C., whose responsibilities include enforcing antitrust law, said on Tuesday that the deal would allow Procter & Gamble, the leading supplier of wet-shave razors, to eliminate competition, which would drive up prices for women’s shaving products.