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Business News Roundup, Nov. 16, 2021

Calls to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a forecast on oil production, skepticism about strengthened IRS enforcement, unions’ call to expand the COVID-19 vaccine mandate to smaller employers, a suggestion to follow the timeline of the vaccine mandate despite court challenges are among the top business news items this morning.


Pressure has been mounting on the White House to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help reduce gas prices, with advocates saying the move could help relieve inflationary pressures. Opponents argue that the reserve should be used for emergency situations such as disruptions caused by natural disasters and not as a way to counter fluctuating prices at the pump.

A forecast from the International Energy Agency suggests that oil production is catching up to strengthened demand, which could help ease prices. The IEA anticipates that more oil will become available in the coming months following a strong production gains in October, with United States producers showing the strongest increases.

An analysis by the Congressional Budget Office is questioning whether strengthened tax enforcement through the Internal Revenue Service would raise sufficient funds to help cover the $1.75 trillion in spending in a social policy and environmental bill currently before Congress. The White House anticipates that giving the IRS more resources to combat wealthy tax evaders would yield $400 billion over a decade, but the CBO projects that it will only take in $120 billion.

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A group of major labor unions is filing suit to demand that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate be extended to smaller employers. The rule is currently being limited to businesses with 100 or more workers, but the unions say this threshold fails to protect all employees who face higher risk of COVID-19 exposure at their workplace.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is urging businesses to follow the timeline of the OSHA emergency temporary standard on COVID-19 vaccines unless it is definitively overturned by court action. The rule sets Dec. 5 as the deadline for most of the mandate’s provisions and Jan. 4 for when workers must be vaccinated or start weekly testing, but the standard is facing numerous legal challenges and a pause on the rule has been ordered by a federal appeals court.

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