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Business News Roundup, February 3, 2021

Movement on an economic stimulus proposal, efforts to ramp up COVID-19 vaccine distribution, a revival of aluminum tariffs, stronger than expected jobs figures, and a confirmation hearing for a new SBA head are among the top items in business news this morning.


Democratic leaders have signaled that they are ready to move forward with passing President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion economic stimulus measure with a simple majority if necessary rather than trying to sway enough Republican votes to pass the measure by the 60 votes necessary in the Senate. This action comes shortly after Biden met with a group of Republican lawmakers on their proposal for a $618 billion relief measure with a much narrower scope.

Isabel Guzman, Biden’s pick for administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, will have a confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship today. In her prepared remarks, Guzman says she will be committed to ensuring that the SBA’s services are available to minority-owned businesses and other underserved entrepreneurs.

Pfizer is planning to deliver 200 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the United States in May, two months earlier than anticipated. The Biden administration is seeking to ramp up vaccine distribution through pharmacies, while Moderna intends to increase the amount of vaccine it can distribute in its vials by as much as 50 percent.

Biden has reinstated tariffs on aluminum exports from the United Arab Emirates, reversing one of President Donald Trump’s last actions in office. Trump had put the aluminum tariffs in place in 2018, arguing that foreign metal sales undercut American producers, but rescinded the action before leaving the White House. Such tariffs have been supported by American labor unions, but opposed by manufacturers who say they lead to higher costs.

The payroll processing firm ADP indicates that private employers added 174,000 jobs in January, up from a net loss of jobs in December and higher than the 50,000 increase predicted by Wall Street economists. ADP’s report is issued in advance of figures from the Labor Department, which are due Friday.

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