COVID-19 Update | Monday, Aug. 10 (PM)
August 10, 2020
Both the House and Senate are out of session officially. However, lawmakers have been instructed to be prepared to return to vote on a potential COVID-19 relief package.
COVID-19 Relief Negotiations
- As we reported in our Morning Update, COVID-19 relief negotiations are at a standstill. There is still no indication that conversations have resumed.
- As a reminder, over the weekend, President Trump issued 4 Executive Orders on the following topics:
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Chief Policy Officer, Neil Bradley, commented in a statement that these orders are “no substitute for Congressional action.”
- House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Environment Subcommittee Chairman Harley Rouda (D-CA) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) sent letter to the Inspectors General at the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army, as well as a letter to the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), urging that they launch an investigation into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ environmental review that resulted in the approval of the proposed Pebble Mine project in Bristol Bay, Alaska. A press release on the two letters can be found here.
- House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced an updated vote schedule for the House this fall and further announced in a press release that the House will begin conducting committee work beginning the week of September 7 and that the next votes are expected the week of September 14.
- Hoyer commented that the House would likely take action on government funding the week of September 14, an indication that the House may vote on a continuing resolution then. As a reminder, the House has passed all of its Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 government funding bills except for the Homeland Security and Legislative Branch bills, but the Senate has yet to consider any in committee.
- The Federal Transit Administration announced that its next listening session in its series on how the transit industry is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic will be held on August 20 at 10:45am ET. Register for the session here.
- U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and European Union Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders issued a joint statement declaring that the two sides have started discussions on an “enhanced” data transfer deal, after Europe’s highest court struck down the Privacy Shield agreement last month.
- The Department of Defense and White House announced that they will auction off 3.45-3.55 GHz band, which will be made available for commercial 5G use. Under this plan, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will issue 100 3.45-3.55 GHz band which is currently operated by the military to companies that will use the wireless technology for a range of business ventures. A press release from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on the plan is here.
- The EPA is expected to announce a repeal of a 2016 rule that required companies to install stronger pollution control equipment at newly constructed oil and gas wells or other production facilities, and to search for and repair methane leaks. This repeal will apply to all wells that have been drilled since 2016 and remove the largest pipelines, storage sites and other parts of the transmission system from EPA oversight of smog and greenhouse-gas emissions.
- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) said that President Trump’s Executive Order on unemployment benefits, which asks that states pay 25% of the benefits, will cost New York $4B. As a reminder, the Executive Order would provide $300 per week from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund and states could opt to provide an additional $100 per week.
- Leaders from college athletics’ top conferences are engaged in serious discussions to postpone or cancel college sports for the fall of 2020. The Big Ten Conference is reportedly considering cancellation of its fall 2020 athletics within the next week. Reports also indicate that the Mountain West Conference plans to cancel the football season. In response to these still unconfirmed reports, President Trump showed support for finding a way to still play fall 2020 athletics.
- The Southeastern Conference (SEC) and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), two of the most formidable conferences in the nation, are still trying to find ways to salvage the season, at least for their football programs. The Mid-American Conference (MAC) postponed athletics for the fall, including football, becoming the first major athletic conference to make that move. Additionally, the University of Connecticut (UConn), who competes in the Big East Conference, previously cancelled its football season and the Ivy League schools have already cancelled all fall sports.
- Biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences announced today that it applied to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for full approval for its COVID-19 drug, Remdesivir. As a reminder, Remdesivir has yielded shorter recovery times for COVID-19 patients and the FDA has allowed the drug’s use on an emergency basis only.