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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Initial weekly jobless claims rose to 885,000 last week, an increase of 23,000 and a higher total than the 800,000 claims economists had projected, according to data released by the Labor Department.

Why it matters: The jobless numbers are moving in the wrong direction heading into the holidays. Amid clear indicators that the economic recovery is slowing, Congress looks set to reach a deal on a targeted stimulus package as soon as today.

The state of play: The coronavirus stimulus package emerging in Congress would let all the players declare victory — even if long-suffering Americans disagree.

Tale of the tape: Mitch McConnell can say the final $900 billion price tag is similar to the one he put out in July. Democrats can say the bill excludes the majority leader's demand for liability protections for businesses. And the bipartisan group that kickstarted the final round of talks can point to the success of their bicameral alliance.

The latest: Congressional leaders are hours away from announcing an 11th-hour stimulus package, just days before many of the existing coronavirus relief measures expire on Jan. 1, 2021.

  • The new bill is expected to include a second round of direct payments of around $600, $300 per week in enhanced unemployment benefits and $325 billion in aid for small businesses.
  • It leaves out the Democrats' previous demand for state and local aid, as well as a Republican-backed shield that would protect businesses from COVID-related liability lawsuits.

Both sides compromised, which is why we're optimistic there's a legitimate shot they pull this off.

Go deeper

Schumer rattles reconciliation saber

More than an aisle separates Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, seen in the Senate Chamber after the Capitol siege. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Chuck Schumer is expected to telegraph, as soon as tonight, that he will use his political muscle to pass some of his party’s priorities — like President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package.

Why it matters: While the Senate majority leader wants to work with Republicans on key legislation, advisers say, he will make clear that using the simple majority vote inherent in the budget reconciliation process is one of the big sticks at his disposal.

Top Democrats introduce bill to raise minimum wage to $15 by 2025

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A group of top Democrats on Tuesday introduced legislation to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour over five years.

Why it matters: The policy, which has widespread support among Democratic lawmakers, aligns with what President Joe Biden has called for in his emergency COVID-19 relief package. It would more than double the current minimum wage of $7.25.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Facebook paying up to $14M to settle employment discrimination claims

Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook has agreed to pay up to $14.25 million to settle allegations that it discriminated against American workers by reserving positions for temporary visa holders, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The settlement represents the largest civil penalty and monetary award that the Civil Rights Division has recovered in the 35-year history of the Immigration and Nationality Act's anti-discrimination provision.

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