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AP

Sen. Mark Warner is hoping to push the federal government to tackle the difficult questions about how companies like Uber and Lyft are changing the nature of work — and, more specifically, the nature of benefits.

At issue: Many benefits are traditionally tied to your full-time employer. But with the rise of on-demand economy companies that rely on contractors, a growing share of the workforce is going to miss out on benefits like health insurance and retirement savings plans.

  • The bill from Virginia's Warner, a Democrat, would give the Labor Department $20 million to fund pilot programs related to either new or existing models for portable benefits. In other words, benefits you that aren't linked to employment status. Warner told Axios that "rather than starting with some kind of federally driven, top-down solution, what we're trying to say is let's go ahead and try and experiment."
  • The grants aren't supposed to go to a program that "provides only retirement-related benefits," since Warner says he's hoping there will ultimately be more types of benefits available to workers.

Brass tacks: The bill has a companion in the House, sponsored by Democrat Suzan DelBene, and Warner says he expects it to gain support from Republicans. "We've had some conversations with Republicans. we want to go ahead and drop the bill, put the marker down, and I do anticipate that we'll gain some Republican and Democratic support," Warner said.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
51 mins ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."

Justice Department drops insider trading inquiry against Sen. Richard Burr

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) walking through the Senate Subway in the U.S. Capitol in December 2020. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Department of Justice told Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday that it will not move forward with insider trading charges against him.

Why it matters: The decision, first reported by the New York Times, effectively ends the DOJ's investigation into the senator's stock sell-off that occurred after multiple lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll. Burr subsequently stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.