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Screenshot via helpsmallbusinessesnow.com

The Small Business Recovery Initiative, a group backed by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, released a video on Tuesday featuring struggling small business owners urging viewers to sign a petition that calls on Congress to pass COVID relief.

Why it matters: Recent data increasingly shows the economic recovery is floundering, as coronavirus cases surge and states tighten up restrictions ahead of what is likely to be a grim winter for many families and small businesses. Many of the economic safety nets that vulnerable Americans rely on are set to expire in December.

What they're saying: "Seeing lines at food banks that stretch for blocks, and hearing that so many families will go without the basic necessities this holiday season, is a powerful reminder that the crisis facing our fellow Americans is getting worse by the day," Schultz wrote in a letter calling on others to support the petition.

  • "This is a time for all of us to do more to help, however we can," he continued. "Rebuilding from the devastation of this virus will require businesses, nonprofits, and philanthropies to work together in new ways to generate catalytic impact. And it requires more resources from our federal government."
  • Watch the video.

The big picture: Last month, a survey from Goldman Sachs found that the number of small businesses that said they were unsure whether or not they would be able to survive had reached its highest level since the survey began.

  • More than half of small business owners (52%) had stopped paying themselves in a bid to keep their businesses afloat, while four in 10 (42%) had already begun laying off employees or cutting worker pay.
  • 38% of those surveyed said they would have to lay off more employees or cut employee compensation without additional help from Congress, and 20% said they would not be able to pay their commercial rent through the end of the year.

Driving the news: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plan to discuss COVID relief on Tuesday for the first time since October, when negotiations fell apart ahead of the election.

  • The talks come hours after a group of bipartisan senators released a $906 billion stimulus proposal — one of the few concrete steps toward COVID relief made by Congress in several months.

Go deeper: Economic safety nets to disappear in December as coronavirus surges

Go deeper

Updated Jan 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden on his nearly $2 trillion plan: "We cannot afford inaction”

Joe Biden before speaking Thursday. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Biden called for a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan this evening, including money to combat the spread of the virus, vaccinate millions of Americans and provide direct relief to individuals in the form of an additional $1,400 in cash payments.

Why it matters: Biden’s “American Rescue Plan” is his opening bid to Congress on the first of two massive proposals requiring approval in the House and Senate. He'll return in February, in his first address to Congress, to ask for additional infrastructure spending, as Axios reported and Biden confirmed Thursday night.

55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Read: Pete Buttigieg's opening statement ahead of confirmation hearing

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to be secretary of transportation, in December. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/AFP via Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to lead the Transportation Department, will tell senators he plans to prioritize the health and safety of public transportation systems during the pandemic — and look to infrastructure projects to rebuild the economy — according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: Buttigieg will testify at 10 a.m. ET before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He is expected to face a relatively smooth confirmation process, though GOP lawmakers may press him on "green" elements of Biden's transportation proposals.

Off the Rails

Episode 8: The siege

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 8: The siege. An inside account of the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 that ultimately failed to block the certification of the Electoral College. And, finally, Trump's concession.

On Jan. 6, White House deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger entered the West Wing in the mid-afternoon, shortly after his colleagues' phones had lit up with an emergency curfew alert from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.