Biden, Capito Seek Progress in Infrastructure Talks
The White House meeting between the president and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.) comes after Senate Republicans unveiled a plan to spend $928 billion over eight years to update roads, bridges, rail and transit systems. That offer is an increase from the GOP’s original five-year $568 billion proposal, but it still left the two sides far apart. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), speaking in his home state Wednesday, said he talked to Mrs. Capito in the morning and was hopeful “that we can actually reach a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure.”
There is other movement on infrastructure as well. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously advanced a $304 billion reauthorization bill last week, legislation that lawmakers see as a possible component of a broader infrastructure deal. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will mark up their surface reauthorization bill next week, which has overlap but covers a broader group of transportation and infrastructure costs.
2021 Fortune 500 – Lots of Turmoil
The 2021 Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. companies is out this morning, and while there was no change at the very top—Walmart landed at No.1 and Amazon at No.2, just like last year—there was huge turmoil underneath. Exxon Mobil, which has been in the top five every year since the list’s launch in 1955, plummeted to No.10 and recorded the single biggest loss, some $22 billion, among the companies on the 500. Four airlines fell more than 100 places each—Delta, United, American and Southwest—with revenue losses of at least 60% each. And Marriott International fell 136 spots to No.293, reporting a $267 million loss.
Meanwhile, on the upside, Advanced Micro Devices made the biggest jump, up 139 spots to No.309. Newcomer Rocket Companies blasted its way to No.193 on the list, powered by a 204% leap in revenue. PayPal rose to No.134, thanks to a 20.7% increase in revenue. And Dollar General cracked the top 100, at No.91, thanks to a 21.6% increase in sales. There were 24 newcomers on the list, including Chewy (No.403) and Chipotle (No.464.)
Biden Freezes Oil Leases in Alaska Refuge Pending New Environmental Review
The Biden administration is suspending all oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge pending a deeper look at the environmental impacts of drilling in the sensitive region, the Interior Department said Tuesday.
A new environmental analysis could impose additional restrictions on development in the refuge or potentially nullify the leases altogether, undoing one of the signature policy achievements of the Trump administration. But Tuesday’s secretarial order does not go as far as green groups have requested in an ongoing lawsuit, which aims to void the leases that were awarded earlier this year.
Oil Price Hits Two-Year High as OPEC Sees More Demand
The global oil-price benchmark closed above $70 a barrel for the first time in two years Tuesday on investors’ optimism that improving demand and a dwindling supply glut may mean the market can absorb any additional production from OPEC and its allies. Brent crude rose to $70.25 a barrel, the highest close since May 2019. West Texas Intermediate futures gained $1.40, or 2.1%, to $67.72 a barrel. The U.S. gauge settled at its highest level since October 2018.
Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies, a group known as OPEC+, on Tuesday agreed to continue relaxing curbs on oil production, signaling their confidence in improving oil demand and a drop in the global supply glut. Prices began rallying after a technical committee within the cartel on Monday confirmed forecasts for a rebound of six million barrels a day in world oil demand this year, according to people familiar with OPEC and its allies.
US COVID Update – Biden Announces June Vaccine Push
President Biden on Wednesday announced plans to double down on his administration’s efforts to get more Americans vaccinated against Covid-19 by July 4th. Speaking from the White House on Wednesday, Biden said June will be a “national month of action” to get more Americans vaccinated by July 4, a White House official told NBC News.
The president outlined “an all-of-America approach” to his vaccine campaign, which will mobilize national organizations, community-based and faith-based partners, celebrities, athletes and other influential groups. As of Tuesday, more than 162 million U.S. adults, or 62.8% of people 18 and over, have received at least one Covid vaccine, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 133 million U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
NYS Vaccine Update
As of Wednesday morning 10,744,805 (plus 29,692 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 9,186,551 are fully vaccinated (Plus 42,999). In the Hudson Valley 1,142,413 (plus 3,604) have at least one dose and 963,473 (plus 5,329) are fully vaccinated.
- Read the press release
- Read the scholarship press release
- Visit the vaccine tracker site
- Make an appointment
NYS COVID Update
The Governor updated COVID data through Tuesday June 1st. There were 11 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,734. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.
- Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,007
- Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: Not Reported
Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:
- Statewide 0.64%
- Mid-Hudson: 0.58%
- Read the press release
- See the School Districts Dashboard
- See the SUNY Dashboard
- State Vaccine Information Site
Health Officials Trial Mix and Match Booster Shots
Federal health officials have started a new study exploring whether mixing different Covid-19 vaccines can prolong immunity and better protect people from concerning variants of the coronavirus. The new study will enroll adult volunteers who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and give them booster doses of different vaccines, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said Tuesday.
NIAID, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, is leading and funding the study through a network of researchers who specialize in vaccines and infectious diseases. “Although the vaccines currently authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration offer strong protection against Covid-19, we need to prepare for the possibility of needing booster shots to counter waning immunity and to keep pace with an evolving virus,” NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said.
Amazon Changes Employee Policies for Time Off, Marijuana
Amazon announced Tuesday it supports the federal legalization of marijuana, and that the company is revising a controversial workplace policy critics say has been used to keep employees working at a breakneck pace. The twin announcements, Amazon said, are aimed at reiterating the company’s commitment to being an attractive employer.
Positions subject to regulation by the US Department of Transportation will still include the marijuana test, Clark said, adding that the company will “continue to do impairment checks on the job and will test for all drugs and alcohol after any incident.”
JBS: Cyber-Attack Hits World’s Largest Meat Supplier
The world’s largest meat processing company has been targeted by a sophisticated cyber-attack. Computer networks at JBS were hacked, temporarily shutting down some operations in Australia, Canada and the US, with thousands of workers affected.
The company believes the ransomware attack originated from a criminal group likely based in Russia, the White House said. The attack could lead to shortages of meat or raise prices for consumers. On Wednesday Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told local media the Biden administration had been in contact with Moscow to discuss the cyber-attack.
New York’s Realities of Single Payer Group Launches Ads
The Advocacy Group launched different sets of digital advertisements Tuesday. All of the ads link to a page with a Call to Action, similar to what they have been using but with messaging tailored to each ad.
The first set of ads emphasizes the $250 billion+ in taxes required under a Single Payer health plan and the mystery surrounding the tax brackets and just how much exactly every individual and business would end up having to pay. These ads will appear on Facebook and across a wide array of websites via Google. Realities will also have an exclusive sponsorship in the Politico NY Health newsletter next week.
Worker Shortage Crisis Is Focus Of New Campaign By U.S. Chamber
Saying that, “The worker shortage is real—and it’s getting worse by the day,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and their Chamber of Commerce Foundation today announced the launch of America Works, a nationwide initiative designed to mobilize industry and government to immediately address the deepening worker shortage crisis in the U.S.
To help address the worsening crisis, the Chamber is calling for:
- A suite of legislative and regulatory solutions at the federal and state level that would eliminate barriers to work for Americans, invest in skills and job training, and reform America’s broken, outdated immigration system.
- Doubling the cap on employment-based visas, doubling the quota on H-1B and H-2B visas and implementing other reforms to the legal immigration system to help employers meet the need for high-demand jobs in labor-strapped sectors.
- Growing federal investments in employer-led job education and training programs.
ILO: Jobs Lost to the Pandemic Will Take Years to Return
Global employment will take years to return to prepandemic levels, the United Nations’ labor organization said on Wednesday in a report that urged governments to build social protection systems to avoid the destabilizing effects of deepening economic and social inequality.
The pandemic wiped out around 144 million jobs last year, including a projected 30 million new jobs that would have been created, the International Labor Organization said in its assessment of employment and social trends. The organization expects to see significant growth in employment starting in the second half of 2021, but “this will be uneven and not enough to repair the damage caused by the crisis,” Guy Ryder, the organization’s director general, said in an interview.
Fortune 500 – Some Other Interesting Facts
- The five most valuable companies on the list were all tech titans, with Apple (No.4) leading the pack with its $2 trillion valuation. Four of the five are valued at over $1 trillion.
- Revenues of the 500 totaled $13.8 trillion, which was down 3% from a year earlier. Profits were down 30%.
- There were 41 female CEOs leading companies on the list, up 4 from last year. Karen Lynch of CVS (No.4) took the top.
- California and New York tied for the most companies on the list, with 53 each—although the California companies were runaway favorites in revenues, profits, and market valuation. Texas came in third, with 49 companies.
- The revenue threshold for getting on the list this year was $5.4 billion.