Global stocks higher…Minimum wage fight
BEIJING (AP) – Global stock markets have followed Wall Street higher after the Federal Reserve chairman said the U.S. central bank is in no hurry to withdraw support for the economy. In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London rose 0.3%, Frankfurt’s DAX added less than 0.1% and the CAC 40 in Paris advanced 0.4%. In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index closed 0.6% higher, the Nikkei in Tokyo gained 1.7%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 1.2% and the Kospi in Seoul added 3.5%. U.S. futures are mixed.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Republicans are rallying solidly against Democrats’ proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. But even as they do, lawmakers are awaiting a decision by the Senate’s parliamentarian that could bolster or potentially kill a pivotal provision hiking the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over 5 years. Democrats plan to push the sweeping package through the House on Friday. But in the Senate, the suspense is over whether the nonpartisan parliamentarian will decide if the minimum wage provision can stay in the bill and enjoy its protection against a GOP filibuster.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Democratic-led House is poised to pass a bill that enshrines protections in the nation’s labor and civil rights laws for LGBTQ people. It’s a top priority of President Joe Biden, but the legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate. The Equality Act amends existing civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identification as protected characteristics. Supporters say the law would ensure that every person is treated equally under the law. But some religious groups and social conservatives worry that the bill would force people to take actions that contradict their religious beliefs.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Leaders of Texas’ embattled power grid are set to face sharp questioning from lawmakers for the first time since last week’s outages left more than 4 million customers without electricity. Today’s hearings in the Texas Capitol come as lawmakers are calling for more regulation in America’s energy capital. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott wants to force power plants to winterize after nearly half of the state’s generation capacity was knocked offline by subfreezing temperatures. There’s also new support for guardrails on Texas’ deregulated electric market to prevent astronomical energy bills.
UNDATED (AP) – Federal auditors are issuing fresh criticism of the government agency that approved the Boeing 737 Max. The Transportation Department’s inspector general said Wednesday that the Federal Aviation Administration must improve its process for certifying new planes. The auditors say the FAA didn’t understand a key flight-control system that played a role in two deadly crashes of Boeing Max jets. They say the FAA doesn’t properly deal with integrating new technologies into existing planes and that the it suffers from weak management and oversight.