Most big corporations are willing to take a legal risk by helping employees travel to access abortion services amid a tight labor market. We’ll also look at the U.S. effort to tackle food shortages, the Biden administration’s first oil leases and Americans’ increasingly pessimistic view of the economy.
But first, read about the most recent bombshells to come out of Tuesday’s Jan. 6 hearing.
Welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. For The Hill, we’re Sylvan Lane, Aris Folley and Karl Evers-Hillstrom. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.
Some companies will pay for travel for abortion care
The nation’s largest companies are pledging to cover employees’ travel expenses to access abortion services, deciding an additional benefit for workers in a tight labor market outweighs the threat of legal action from states that have criminalized abortion.
Walt Disney, Comcast, PayPal, Nike and other major employers announced those benefits on Friday, shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and upended a near 50-year precedent that guaranteed the right to abortion. Several other top employers implemented similar policies after the draft ruling was leaked last month.
Companies are taking a risk, as they could face lawsuits from states or, in Texas, from anti-abortion activists under a state law that empowers citizens to enforce abortion restrictions.
Employers could defend themselves by citing a federal law that blocks states from placing mandates on employer-sponsored health plans, but it’s unclear how those lawsuits would play out in court.
They’re under pressure to provide strong health benefits amid a tight labor market, where more than 11 million jobs remain unfilled and employers struggle to attract workers.
The context: While dozens of major companies have publicly announced that they’ll reimburse employees to travel out of state for an abortion, most have opted against weighing in on the abortion debate itself, continuing a longstanding trend.
Karl has more here.
FIGHTING FOR FOOD
US, allies to give $4.5B to address global food security
President Biden and international allies will contribute $4.5 billion to address global food security, the White House announced at the Group of Seven (G-7) summit on Tuesday. More than half of that commitment will come from the United States.
Biden will announce $2.76 billion in additional funding from the U.S. to help protect over 47 countries that are considered to have the world’s most vulnerable populations, and mitigate the impacts of the war in Ukraine on growing food insecurity and malnutrition.
Up to 40 million more people could be pushed into poverty as a result of the war in Ukraine, and 20 million in the Horn of Africa could face starvation by the end of the year, according to the White House.
The funding includes $2 billion for emergency interventions and $760 million for sustainable near-term food assistance for vulnerable countries.
The Hill’s Alex Gangitano has more here.
THE LEASE THEY CAN DO
Biden administration to hold its first oil drilling lease sales on federal lands
The Biden administration is set to hold lease sales for new oil and gas drilling on public lands starting this week and, for the first time, it will implement new regulations for producers.
The oil auctions will effectively be the administration’s first, since the only other lease sale it has held was tossed in court on environmental grounds.
But neither industry nor green groups are particularly pleased with the sales, as industry wanted more land and fewer stipulations while many climate hawks wanted no lease sales at all.
The Hill’s Rachel Frazin tells us what to expect here.
Americans’ views of economy worsen as gas prices rise: Gallup
The American public’s views of the economy are declining as gas prices rise, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday.
Two-thirds of Americans surveyed in the poll conducted earlier this month said that gas prices are causing a moderate or severe financial hardship on their household.
That figure marks an increase of 15 percentage points from the 52 percent who said the same in April and is among the highest Gallup has found when posing the question during periods of gas price increases since 2000.
The average national price of gas was about $4.88 per gallon as of Tuesday, a slight drop from the record high of just above $5 recorded earlier this month, according to the American Automobile Association.
Here’s more from The Hill’s Jared Gans.
Good to Know
House Democrats pointed the finger at corporate landlords for climbing rental costs during a hearing on housing Tuesday, leading Republicans to accuse the majority of trying to deflect blame for record inflation.
Democratic lawmakers at a House Financial Services subpanel Tuesday blamed private equity firms for the “predatory purchasing” of single-family homes in bulk and jacking up rent and fee prices, exacerbating a housing crisis they argued predates the pandemic.
Here’s what else we have our eye on:
Airbnb announced Tuesday that its temporary ban on house parties and events will now be permanent.
E-cigarette giant Juul argued in court documents filed on Tuesday that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had overlooked a mountain of data that it had included in its application that demonstrated its products’ benefit to public health.
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.
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