Biden’s Commerce Secretary Is Trying to Shield a $42 Billion Broadband Funding Program from Public Eyes

Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo requested the inclusion of a provision in the bipartisan infrastructure bill shielding a $42 billion broadband funding program from public scrutiny, according to several people familiar with the matter.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a $1.2 trillion piece of legislation that passed the Senate in August with significant bipartisan support and currently awaits a vote in the House, sets aside $42 billion in broadband deployment grants to be given to states and administered through guidelines issued by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a division of the Commerce Department.

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Jobless Claims Fall Below 400,000, Hit Economists’ Expectations

Unemployment sign

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims decreased to 385,000 last week as the economy continues its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Labor.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics figure released Thursday represented a slight decrease in the number of new jobless claims compared to the week ending July 24, when 399,000 new jobless claims were reported. That number was revised down from the 400,000 jobless claims initially reported last week.

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U.S. Retail Sales Jump in January in Positive Sign for Economy

The U.S. retail sales were much higher than economists projected in January, ending a multi-month streak of underperformance, according to the Commerce Department.

Retail sales increased 5.3% and totaled $568.2 billion in January, according to the Department of Commerce report released Wednesday. Economists had predicted retail sales to increase by 1.2%, The New York Times reported.

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Judge Postpones Trump’s TikTok Ban in Suit Brought by Users

A federal judge has postponed President Donald Trump’s threatened shutdown of the popular short-form video app TikTok, siding with a Pennsylvania comedian and two other TikTok creators who say Trump’s order hampers their free speech.

U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone on Friday blocked an upcoming Commerce Department action that would have effectively banned TikTok in the U.S. by cutting it off from vital technical services.

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