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Business groups urge lawmakers to stick with bipartisan infrastructure deal

Brittany Jordan

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Business groups urge lawmakers to stick with bipartisan infrastructure deal


Business groups are keeping the pressure on lawmakers to finalize a bipartisan infrastructure bill after Republicans blocked the Senate from debating the proposal Wednesday. 

More than 120 business and manufacturing associations, led by the National Association of Manufacturers, sent a letter to members of Congress Thursday urging them to pass the infrastructure proposal negotiated by President BidenBusiness groups urge lawmakers to stick with bipartisan infrastructure dealJoe BidenBiden says wages will need to increase to solve recruitment problems Caitlyn Jenner pledges to support Trump if he makes another bid for the White House Biden: Republicans who say Democrats want to defund the police are lying MORE and a bipartisan group of senators.

“As an elected leader, you have the chance to realize the promise of American economic prosperity by working with your colleagues to enact the bipartisan framework that was recently announced,” the groups wrote.

Business groups are attempting to round up support from GOP senators, who blocked debate on the bipartisan deal Wednesday because the bill was not yet written. Lobbyists are stressing that the $1.2 trillion framework makes huge investments in the nation’s infrastructure without raising taxes on corporations, a top priority for both business interests and Republicans.

“Importantly, this agreement advances these historic investments without putting at risk the competitive gains achieved for American businesses through tax reform, allowing manufacturers to reinvest in their facilities, their communities and their employees,” business groups wrote to lawmakers Thursday.

Biden on Thursday afternoon was set to meet with business and labor leaders who support the bipartisan deal, including Business Roundtable CEO Joshua Bolten, U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Suzanne Clark, Laborers’ Union President Terry O’Sullivan and National Association of Manufacturers board chair Michael Lamach.

The meeting is meant to send a message to Republicans that a wide range of organizations support Biden’s proposal, including those that typically clash on most issues, such as the Chamber and the AFL-CIO. 

Build Together, a group of CEOs comprised of large companies such as Delta, General Motors, IBM, Nike, Walmart and Bank of America, is one of the many business groups attempting to persuade Senate Republicans to support the infrastructure deal. 

The group is placing newspaper ads in 14 states represented by Republican senators who are open to the bipartisan deal, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellBusiness groups urge lawmakers to stick with bipartisan infrastructure dealAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Bipartisan infrastructure group says it’s still on track after Senate setback | House Democrats want input on bipartisan plan | McConnell warns GOP won’t vote to raise debt ceiling Equilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — West Coast wildfires drive East Coast air quality alerts GOP blocks infrastructure debate as negotiators near deal MORE (R-Ky.).

The ads say that the bipartisan framework “makes a down payment on our climate progress and engages private capital to create durable solutions to our infrastructure challenges without hampering our post-COVID recovery.”

Republicans have insisted that they will come to an agreement on the final bill by next week. Progressive groups and some congressional Democrats have urged Biden to end negotiations with Republicans, making the case that GOP lawmakers are intentionally stalling the process.

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Poultry plant fined $1M over ‘entirely avoidable’ deaths of six workers

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Poultry plant fined $1M over ‘entirely avoidable’ deaths of six workers


The Department of Labor this week issued nearly $1 million in fines over a January nitrogen leak at a poultry processing plant that killed six people and hospitalized at least a dozen others. 

The agency in a Thursday document listed a total of 59 safety violations and $998,637 in proposed penalties for the Foundation Food Group and three other companies with roles at the Gainesville, Ga., plant. 

The fines followed an investigation by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which found that six workers at the plant died of asphyxiation after entering a freezer room where an equipment malfunction caused liquid nitrogen to release into the air. 

According to the OSHA, Foundation Food Group had not properly informed employees, either “by posting danger signs or by any other equally effective means, of the existence and location of, and the danger posed by the permit spaces.” 

The department’s 26 violations against the poultry company also included allegedly failing to “develop, document and use lockout procedures,” and “not training employees on the methods and observations used to detect the presence or release of nitrogen.” 

In total, the Labor Department has levied $595,474 in penalties against the Foundation Food Group. 

The agency also issued $74,118 in fines against Messer LLC, which provided the industrial gas for the plant. 

The OSHA argued this week that Messer had engaged in six violations, including exposing “workers to injuries and suffocation from the uncontrolled release of liquid nitrogen” and not making sure that lockout procedures were made known and shared between the host employer and workers. 

Packers Sanitation Services, Inc. Ltd. was also fined $286,720 for 17 serious and two repeat violations for failing to train workers on the hazards of liquid nitrogen and “not ensuring emergency eye washes were available and unobstructed.” 

FS Group Inc., the firm responsible for manufacturing and servicing equipment at the plant, faces $42,325 in fines for failing to train workers on the hazards posed by the machinery and emergency procedures on dealing with liquid nitrogen leaks. 

Labor Secretary Marty WalshPoultry plant fined $1M over ‘entirely avoidable’ deaths of six workersMarty WalshThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Goldman Sachs – Voting rights will be on ’22, ’24 ballots On The Money: Inflation spike puts Biden on defensive | Senate Democrats hit spending speed bumps | Larry Summers huddles with WH team On The Money: Biden fires head of Social Security Administration | IRS scandals haunt Biden push for more funding MORE said in a statement announcing the penalties that the deaths and hospitalizations suffered as a result of the nitrogen leak “were entirely avoidable.” 

“The Department of Labor is dedicated to upholding the law and using everything in our power to get justice for the workers’ families,” Walsh added. “The bottom line is no one should leave for work wondering if they’ll return home at the end of the day, and the Department of Labor is committed to holding bad actors accountable.”

The Hill has reached out to Foundation Food Group for comment. 

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De Blasio urges NYC businesses to require coronavirus vaccines

Brittany Jordan

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De Blasio urges NYC businesses to require coronavirus vaccines


New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioDe Blasio urges NYC businesses to require coronavirus vaccinesBill de Blasio43 percent of NYPD employees vaccinated: report The Hill’s Morning Report – Infrastructure vote fails; partisan feud erupts over Jan. 6 panel Israeli politician calls on Ben & Jerry’s to ‘rethink’ ban MORE (D) is pushing businesses to require that their employees be vaccinated as the delta variant of COVID-19 drives up cases around the country.

“I’m calling upon all New York City employers, including our private hospitals, to move immediately to some form of mandate,” the mayor said Friday while appearing on “The Brian Lehrer Show.” “Whatever the maximum you feel you can do.”

The Democratic mayor said the vaccination system that was in place for over half a year has been effective enough to restore some sense of normalcy, but that New York City has “reached the limits of a purely voluntary system.” Mandates, he argued, are the next step.

“Any type of mandate helps,” he said. “It will move the ball, it will get more people vaccinated.”

De Blasio said that every employer is different and he wants to “respect the individuality” of each business, “but if anyone is asking my advice, particularly the larger employers, move to mandates now.”

The mayor’s comments come days after he announced a new COVID-19 policy for city hospital workers. Public health employees in New York City are now required to either get vaccinated or take weekly COVID-19 tests.

De Blasio said he expects that over time the weekly testing will become “tiresome,” and employees will opt to get vaccinated. He is now pushing for the private health care industry to impose a similar mandate.

“We need to get serious more than ever about vaccination,” he said Friday. “If everyone was vaccinated right now we would not be having a conversation about the delta variant. This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” 

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Lobbyist Tony Podesta returns to work for Huawei

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Lobbyist Tony Podesta returns to work for Huawei


Longtime Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta is joining Huawei as the embattled Chinese telecom company ramps up its efforts under the Biden administration.

Podesta, who previously led one of the most powerful lobbying firms in Washington, is making his return to politics after an extended hiatus. His Podesta Group disbanded in 2017 amid scrutiny from then-special counsel Robert MuellerLobbyist Tony Podesta returns to work for HuaweiRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE over the firm’s work with former Trump campaign adviser Paul ManafortLobbyist Tony Podesta returns to work for HuaweiPaul John ManafortFormer bank CEO convicted of bribery in scheme to land Trump admin job Trial begins for Chicago banker who exchanged loans with Manafort for Trump job Legal intrigue swirls over ex-Trump exec Weisselberg: Five key points MORE

The Justice Department ultimately dropped its investigation into Podesta’s firm. With Democrats retaking power and his legal troubles lifted, Podesta is eyeing a return to lobbying, The New York Times reported earlier this month.

Huawei has hired Podesta as a consultant, according to a source familiar with the matter. Politico first reported the news of Podesta’s hiring Friday. 

Huawei is bulking up its lobbying team as the Biden administration reviews the Trump White House’s China-related policies. The firm’s sales outside of China have plummeted following a series of restrictions imposed by the Trump administration and further tightened by President BidenLobbyist Tony Podesta returns to work for HuaweiJoe BidenOvernight Defense: Senate panel adds B to Biden’s defense budget | House passes bill to streamline visa process for Afghans who helped US | Pentagon confirms 7 Colombians arrested in Haiti leader’s killing had US training On The Money: Senate braces for nasty debt ceiling fight | Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan deal | Housing prices hit new high in June Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks MORE.

The Shenzhen-based company hired several new lobbying firms run by former government officials in recent months. The telecom spent nearly $1.1 million on lobbying in the second quarter of 2021, up from just $170,000 during the same period last year, according to filings. 

Huawei wants Biden to undo a 2019 Trump administration order that bars it from doing business with American companies, including key partners such as Google, Qualcomm and Intel. The telecom is also pushing for the release of its executive Meng Wanzhou, who is being held in Canada on charges of circumventing U.S. sanctions.

The U.S. has accused Huawei of using its technology to spy on U.S. entities on behalf of Beijing, an allegation it denies.

While Huawei was hopeful that Trump’s election loss would bring relief, Biden has imposed further restrictions on the Chinese firm. Last month, Biden signed an executive order prohibiting U.S. investments in Huawei and other firms that allegedly helped the Chinese government repress the Uyghur ethnic minority and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong.

Huawei and Podesta did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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