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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Liz Lynch/Getty Images

House Democrats are preparing a slimmed-down coronavirus relief proposal focused on unemployment and direct payments that would cost roughly $2.4 trillion.

Why it matters: Democrats and Republicans have been deadlocked in negotiations for more aid despite CARES Act funds expiring over the summer.

The state of play: The bill would include unemployment insurance, direct payments, small-business loan funding and aid for airlines. The price tag is about $1 trillion less than the House's previous plan.

What they're saying: Currently, there are no specific plans to bring the bill to the floor and there is no deadline, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Thursday.

  • “I don’t have an expectation at this point in time, because our focus is we want to get a deal or an agreement with [Treasury Secretary Steven] Mnuchin and the Senate because we want a bill passed and signed so that’s what our focus is — trying to get an agreement before we go home," Hoyer said.
  • House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said, "I think we’re headed toward a resurgence of the virus in the fall, and until we defeat the virus, you’re not going to have full economic recovery."

The other side: Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) called the bill's introduction "a waste of time."

  • "[Pelosi] could pass 10 more partisan bills. That won't get us closer to helping these small businesses and families. It's just another wasted exercise."

Go deeper

McConnell: "No realistic path to quickly pass" stimulus check increase

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Wednesday he does not see a "realistic path to quickly pass" a House-approved standalone measure for $2,000 stimulus checks, despite calls from President Trump for increased payments.

Why it matters: The move effectively kills any pathway to pass the bill before the end of the the 116th Congress.

Complaint to FTC: Amazon search results full of potentially deceiving ads

Photo: Nigel Kirby/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Amazon does not sufficiently distinguish between its search results and paid ads, potentially "deceiving millions of consumers," according to a complaint filed to the Federal Trade Commission.

Why it matters: Joan Moriarty, research director for the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of labor unions that filed the complaint, told the Washington Post the group is "very hopeful" that the FTC will investigate the complaint because Lina Khan (D), a known Amazon critic, is now chair.

3 hours ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.