COVID-19 Update | Monday, April 20 (PM)
April 20, 2020
- A deal on additional funding for existing programs under the CARES Act was not realized today. It is expected that a deal could be passed by unanimous consent in the Senate as early as tomorrow in a Pro Forma session.
- The deal contours include an additional $500 billion to replenish oversubscribed programs from the $2 trillion CARES Act passed in March. Elevate believes the deal will include funding for small businesses, hospitals, and expanded COVID-19 testing.
- At the start of the day, the next scheduled Pro Forma session in the Senate was on Thursday. Today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed on a special Pro Forma Senate session tomorrow.
- The House will likely follow on Wednesday if the Senate is able to pass the legislation tomorrow.
- However, it is expected that Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) will again attempt to force House members to return to Washington for a recorded vote. Rep. Massie has demanded a separate recorded vote on each component of the package discussed above.
- A bipartisan group of House members sent a letter to Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai to encourage China to ease new medical supply export rules, requiring extensive inspections on testing kits, ventilators, and other critical medical supplies. Several American firms have had to stop shipments of critical medical products from China due to these new restrictions, continuing the shortage of ventilators, tests, and personal protective equipment, in the US.
- President Trump is set to officially nominate Joel Szabat, currently the Acting Undersecretary for Policy, to his current position.
- The Administration gave automakers a new deadline of July 1 to submit a draft plan laying out a delayed process for complying with new production rules in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). An agreement could give companies up to two years to comply with USMCA auto production rules.
- The Administration outlined a $19 billion economic relief package for farmers late last week – this includes $16 billion in direct aid and $3 billion in surplus food purchases. The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will use the funding and authorities provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and other USDA existing authorities.
- Reports indicate that the Pentagon is predicting a three-month slowdown across its major acquisition efforts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. DoD’s acquisition chief has stated that she expects the delays to cost billions of dollars and that the Pentagon will be asking Congress for funding to help relieve them of the time and money lost.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) today awarded $19.6 million in discretionary grants to 24 U.S. small shipyards through the Small Shipyard Grant Program. More information can be found here.
- Commuter rail providers across the nation have made significant progress on full implementation of positive train control amid dramatically reduced ridership during the pandemic. The reduced ridership has allowed functional testing of the system.
- New York State requested an additional $4 billion, no interest loan, from the federal government to cover unemployment insurance payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is extremely likely that other states will require additional funds as well. At the end of last week 22 million people had filed for unemployment since the beginning of the COVID-19 response.
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has extended the existing border restrictions on the Canada-United States border for an additional 30 days. The restrictions, which prohibit tourism and personal travel, were set to expire on Monday night.
- The oil industry has seen historically low demand and high supply during the pandemic. Today oil prices hit an all-time low. The industry has received little relief and is seeking support. President Trump has repeatedly indicated a willingness to focus on that sector of the economy but has yet to offer a solution.
- The Office of Management and Budget has released new guidance for agencies on reimbursing federal contractors that are paying employees who cannot work during the pandemic.
- Shake Shack has decided to return its $10 million loan that it received through the Paycheck Protection Program. The move comes after larger restaurant chains and publicly traded companies have continued to face backlash for applying for loans under the program limiting access to smaller retailers and small businesses.