Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
April 5, 2021

Both the House and Senate remain in recess, although the House will meet today at noon and the Senate at 2 p.m. in brief pro forma sessions.  The Senate will reconvene at 3:00 pm on Monday, April 12th and the House on Tuesday, April 13th, with votes at 6:30.

Friday’s jobs report showed that Job growth boomed in March at the fastest pace since last summer, as stronger economic growth and an aggressive vaccination effort contributed to a surge in hospitality and construction jobs, the Labor Department reported.  Nonfarm payrolls increased by 916,000 for the month while the unemployment rate fell to 6%.  Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for an increase of 675,000 and an unemployment rate of 6%. The total was the highest since the 1.58 million jobs added in August 2020.  The report comes amid a slew of other indicators pointing to stronger growth as the U.S. tries to shake off the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  States and municipalities across the country continue to reopen after a year of operating at reduced capacity.  Business activity has returned to close to normal levels in much of the country despite the restrictions, with a tracker by Jefferies indicating that activity is at 93.5% of its pre-pandemic level.

This morning, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen outlined the case for a harmonized corporate tax rate across the world’s major economies, part of an effort to restore global leadership and credibility with U.S. allies following the unilateralist approach of the Trump era.  In her first major speech on international economic policy, Yellen marked an American return to the “global stage.” She singled out China as she said that the US. needs a “strong presence in global markets” to level the playing field.  The U.S. is involved in talks led by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development with about 140 countries to develop a global agreement on minimum levies, but participants haven’t yet reached a deal.  Yellen is participating in her first round of meetings as Treasury secretary during the spring IMF and World Bank meetings in Washington, which begin this week and are being held virtually.

One of Secretary Yellen’s tasks is to make the international case for the Biden Administration’s infrastructure plan.  Biden has been relying on Yellen to convince the business community and reassure Wall Street that his $2 trillion plus infrastructure proposal, on top of his $1.9 trillion stimulus package, won’t lead to inflation.  At last Thursday’s cabinet meeting, Biden tapped five Cabinet secretaries to explain — and sell — his plan to the American public, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.  The Cabinet members tapped to help with the American Jobs Plan are especially equipped to discuss how the proposal can boost infrastructure in states and cities. Buttigieg, Walsh and Fudge are former mayors, while Granholm and Raimondo both served as governors.  Biden has leaned on other top officials to promote his American Rescue Plan that he signed into law in March. Vice President Kamala Harris, first lady Dr. Jill Biden, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, as well as other administration officials, have traveled around the country in recent weeks to highlight different components of the package and explain to the public how they can benefit from it.  The cabinet meeting on Thursday was President Biden’s first, a day after rolling out his $2 trillion infrastructure plan, with the socially distanced participants gathering in the East Room of the White House, a less cramped space than the Cabinet Room.  The afternoon meeting came just over 10 weeks into Mr. Biden’s presidency, a period in which the Senate confirmed all of his cabinet secretaries and almost all of his nominees to other cabinet-level positions.

Also of note, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) on Friday, extended remote voting at least until May 19, 2021 in light of the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency.

At 1 PM, President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will deliver Easter remarks at the White House after returning from Camp David.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.