Business briefing

The daily business briefing: May 5, 2017

The House narrowly approves GOP plan to replace ObamaCare, April hiring rebounds after March slump, and more


House narrowly passes plan to replace ObamaCare

The House narrowly approved the revised Republican plan to repeal and replace major elements of the Affordable Care Act on Thursday. The 217-213 vote put President Trump and GOP lawmakers a step closer to delivering on their promise to scrap ObamaCare after House Republicans came up short six weeks ago in their first attempt to push through the legislation. The bill's future is still uncertain, however, as provisions and spending cuts made to win over House conservatives are certain to face opposition in the Senate, where the GOP holds a narrow majority and Republicans have already rejected the House plan. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said the GOP bill would rescue Americans from higher premiums and the "chaos" of ObamaCare, while Democrats warned moderate Republicans that they were committing "political suicide" by backing a bill that is unpopular with the public, as well as doctors and hospitals, and that would strip health insurance coverage from millions of Americans.


U.S. hiring bounced back stronger than expected in April

The Labor Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy added 211,000 jobs in April, a stronger than expected rebound from March's disappointing job gains, which were adjusted down to 79,000 from the 98,000 initially reported. Economists polled by Bloomberg had estimated on average that 190,000 new jobs were added last month. The weakness in hiring in March, which already had the smallest gains in 10 months before the downward adjustment, has been blamed on unseasonably warm weather in January and February, which caused premature seasonal gains in such weather-sensitive industries as construction and leisure. The April figure nudged down the unemployment rate to 4.4 percent, from 4.5 percent. Wages showed a 2.4 percent increase over the last year, down slightly from the 2.5 percent reported the month before. The April report provided the latest evidence that the economy remains on track with Federal Reserve expectations for continued "moderate" economic growth.


Justice Department opens criminal investigation into Uber's 'Greyball' tool

The Justice Department opened a criminal investigation into Uber's use of secret software it developed, called Greyball, to help its drivers evade authorities in places where its ride-hailing service had not been approved, including Portland, Oregon. The company stopped using Greyball to identify transportation regulators posing as customers after The New York Times broke the story of the software tool's existence in March. The company said it used the tool for those purposes "exceedingly sparingly" in Portland before the service was approved there in 2015, and that it had created Greyball to prevent fraud and protect drivers. The federal investigation is in its early stages, but it could deepen the company's recent struggles with negative publicity about its aggressive tactics. Uber and the Justice Department declined to comment.


Victims' relatives sue Facebook, Google, and Twitter over San Bernardino attack

Family members of San Bernardino terror attack victims have filed a lawsuit against Facebook, Google, and Twitter, accusing the companies of providing publicity platforms for the Islamic State. In papers filed this week in federal court in Los Angeles, the plaintiffs say the social media companies have made it easier for ISIS to spread its propaganda and recruit militants and donors, saying this amounts to providing material support to terrorists, including the ones who killed 14 people in the Dec. 2, 2015, attack on a gathering of local health department workers in San Bernardino. Authorities have said the couple identified as the attackers, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, were inspired by ISIS and had pledged allegiance to the group on Facebook. Google and Twitter made no immediate comment. Facebook said it sympathizes with the victims, and removes reported content from terrorist groups.


Radio reporter accuses Fox News of discrimination and retaliation

Fox News Radio correspondent Jessica Golloher filed a lawsuit on Thursday accusing the company of firing her for reporting sex discrimination to the law firm Fox hired last year to look into harassment complaints that have created turmoil and management shakeups. Golloher, who covers the Middle East and North Africa for Fox News Radio Network from Jerusalem, said the day after she reported her complaint she was told she would be laid off in August. The company said she was losing her job due to budget concerns, according to the lawsuit. "Jessica Golloher's claims are without merit," Fox said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "Her allegations of discrimination and retaliation are baseless."


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