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December 7, 2020

Election and Transition News

–    President-elect Biden announced key members of his health team, including:

·    Xavier Becerra, California’s Attorney General, to be nominated for Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS);

·    Dr. Vivek Murthy, who previously served as Surgeon General under President Obama, to be nominated for Surgeon General;

·    Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Chief of the Infectious Diseases Division at Massachusetts General Hospital, to be nominated for Director of the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC);

·    Jeff Zients, who was Director of the National Economic Council (NEC), among other positions, under President Obama, to be Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President;

·    Dr. Anthony Fauci, current Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), as Chief Medical Adviser on COVID-19;

·    Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, founding Director of Yale’s Equity Research and Innovation Center, as Chair of the COVID-19 Equity Task Force; and,

·    Natalie Quillian, who served as Deputy National Security Adviser, among other positions, under President Obama, to be Deputy Coordinator of the COVID-19 response.


–    Legislative text for the $908B COVID-19 relief framework that was announced by a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers last week could be released as early as tonight, according to Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) who was speaking in an interview.

·    Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), another member of the group who introduced the framework, commented in an interview that the group worked on the legislation extensively over the weekend.

–    Published reports indicate that an agreement was reached on state and local funding at $160B, but that liability protections continue to be negotiated. As a reminder, state and local funding was a must-have for Democrats while Republicans have consistently said they will not agree to any package without liability protections. There has also been a renewed push for additional direct stimulus payments like the $1,200 most Americans received earlier this year.

·    It remains unclear whether the package will be signed off on by Democratic and Republican leadership and brought to the floor.


–    The current continuing resolution (CR) expires on Friday, December 11. Negotiations on a government spending package are ongoing, but it is expected that a short-term CR, potentially for one week, will be agreed upon to allow lawmakers more time to finish negotiations.


–    The House is expected to consider final versions of both the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) on Tuesday. NDAA consideration may not be completed Tuesday. The Senate could also vote on both pieces of legislation as early as this week, though there is also a possibility that WRDA will be considered as part of the end-of-year government spending package.

·    House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) commented that he believes the House would have the votes to override a Presidential veto, in case President Trump follows through on his threat to veto the NDAA because it does not repeal Section 230 liability protections. As a reminder, the NDAA has passed every year for 59 years.

·    WRDA will be considered under suspension of the rules, a legislative process generally reserved for non-controversial bills. Since 2014, Congress has successfully followed WRDA’s tradition of being passed every two years.

–  The final bill text of WRDA can be found here.

–  A section-by-section can be found here.

– A summary fact sheet can be found here.


–    U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer could announce an enforcement action against Canada under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) as soon as today. The action would target Canada’s treatment of U.S. dairy exports and be the first such action since the USMCA went into effect July 1. Details of the dispute and what action will be taken remain unclear.

–    The Department of Commerce announced Friday that it terminated its Section 232 investigation regarding mobile crane imports.

–    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has completed its review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule that would retain the national particulate matter standard without revisions. Environmental groups had hoped that the standard would be toughened. The EPA is expected to finalize the rule Monday.

–    The EPA could also issue guidance this week in response to a Supreme Court ruling from earlier this year that argued that pollution from a source that reaches a river or stream indirectly could still be subject to the Clean Water Act. The case was originally brought over sewage that was indirectly leaking into the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii, but the ruling affects a broad range of industries.

–    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will likely vote this week on its antitrust suit against Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp, after concluding the 20-month investigation. It is unclear whether the suit will be filed in federal court or internally in the FTC. Three of the five FTC Commissioners currently support the suit.

·    New York and over 30 other states will also file their antitrust suit against Facebook in federal court this week.

–    The Department of Transportation issued a final rule codifying the definitions of “unfair” and “deceptive” for aviation consumer protection regulations and outlining the Department’s authority to make rules and take enforcement action against unfair and deceptive practices. The rule is effective January 6. The notice can be found here.

Other News

–    Following General Motors, Nissan became the second automaker to withdraw from the litigation surrounding the Trump Administration’s revocation of California’s waiver that allowed California to set its own higher vehicle emissions standards. Nissan, echoing General Motors, said that it was confident the Biden Administration, California, and automakers could be brought together to deliver a set of national standards that reconcile the gap between the current California and federal regulations.

·    As a reminder, the Trump Administration was sued by the Environmental Defense Fund in 2019 over a new rule to roll-back emissions standards rules set under the Obama Administration. This rule would also revoke California’s right to set its own emissions standards, which have been preserved since the Clean Air Act was originally passed.

–    215 businesses and associations, including Honeywell, the National Association of Manufacturers and others, sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging for the inclusion of the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) in an end-of-year government spending package. The MTB provides tariff waivers for raw goods and other inputs for manufacturers. The last version of the MTB passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2018.

–    The Bureau of Labor reported Friday that the U.S. economy added just 245,000 jobs in the month of November. Economists were predicting nearly double that number, a sign the economic recovery is slowing as we head into winter.

–    AT&T CEO John Stankey announced that AT&T would like to work with the Biden Administration to achieve universal broadband and reform subsidies for broadband development.

–    A coalition of tech and public interest groups sent a letter to Congress opposing the inclusion of intellectual property provisions in the end-of-year government spending package. The letter specifically addresses reform of compensation for copyright infringement under the CASE Act, which would “have negative impacts on small- and medium-sized businesses, creators, libraries and their patrons, students, teachers, educational institutions, religious institutions, fan communities, internet users, and free expression.”

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