COVID-19 Update | Monday, July 13 (PM)
July 13, 2020
Both the House and Senate are in recess through July 20; however, House Committees continue to meet.
- Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other Democrats released a white paper outlining a plan to research, manufacture, purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines. The plan requests $25B and for the vaccine to be free for all Americans. A press release on the white paper can be found here and the full white paper can be found here.
- Elevate understands that the Senate will not likely move any of the Chamber’s appropriations bills until September.
- No negotiations have commenced on COVID-19 relief as of yet. Elevate continues to believe that the negotiations will begin when the Senate returns on July 20, leaving just three weeks before the August break.
- House leadership announced plans to bundle four spending bills into one package for a vote on the House floor next week. The four bills – Agriculture-Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Interior-Environment, State and Foreign Operations, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs – would fund the Departments of Agriculture, State, Interior and Veterans Affairs, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), FDA and military construction projects.
- The House Rules Committee is expected to meet Tuesday or Wednesday next week to prepare the minibus and will likely have to sort through a large number of amendments.
- The House Appropriations Committee continued their full committee markups of FY 2021 appropriations bills.
- Appropriations Committee Member Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) released a Dear Colleague letter on Monday with her plans to create an appropriations advisory committee on equity, justice and diversity. Rep. Wasserman Schultz said the panel would refocus federal spending decisions on the issues and demands of equity, justice, and diversity.”
- Rep. Wasserman Schultz has expressed interest in replacing retiring Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) but is competing against Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who is more senior on the committee.
- In the report for the House Appropriations Committee’s FY 2021 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) bill, members of the House Appropriations Committee expressed concerns over Skip Elliott serving as the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Acting Inspector General and the Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The report expressed concerns that were made in a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report stating that there are “unique independence challenges” when an agency official serves as an Acting Inspector General.
- The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released its Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) with bipartisan support. The legislation, which is generally passed every two years, would, among other legislative actions, authorize 35 feasibility studies for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and construction of all 34 pending proposed projects with final Chief’s Reports within the Corps Civil Works mission areas, including navigation, flood damage reduction, hurricane and storm damage reduction, shoreline protection, and ecosystem restoration. A fact sheet can be found here. Bill text can be found here. A section-by-section can be found here.
- The Committee is marking up the legislation on Wednesday.
- The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee passed its WRDA, split into the America’s Water Infrastructure Act and Drinking Water Infrastructure Act, in May.
- A large coalition of non-profit organizations sent a letter to Congressional leadership requesting that non-profits receive more robust aid in the next COVID-19 relief package. The coalition asked for more funding for a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, creating loans for non-profits that have over 500 employees that do not typically qualify for small business loans and to increase charitable tax breaks. The letter can be found here.
- Former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney criticized the testing process in the United States as “inexcusable” in an op-ed written for CNBC. Mulvaney cited his family’s experience waiting over a week for test results and being denied tests in the article. The article can be found here.
- Highway Trust Fund receipts were $2.2B in June, a 41% drop from the $3.7B brought in during June 2019. This number is an improvement from the 79% year-over-year decrease in May. Currently, the year-over-year decline to date for 2020 is 14%.
- The Highway Trust Fund receives 85% of its funding through fuel taxes.
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will cancel uncashed CARES Act stimulus checks that were sent to people who had died. The IRS noted the action on their website. Additionally, the IRS asked for survivors of those who received checks and cashed them to return the money.
- The IRS noted that they did not believe the original law that gave them the authority to distribute the checks gave them the power to withhold them from any Americans, which is why they ended up being distributed to dead Americans.
- California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a sweeping rollback of reopening plans in the state after a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. Newsom announced that all indoor operations for restaurants, wineries, movie theatres, zoos and bars must close. Additionally, Newsom also closed indoor operations in the 30 hardest hit counties for gyms, places of worship, non-critical offices, hair salons, barbershops and malls.
- Google, Facebook, Spotify, Microsoft, and Salesforce are part of a group of technology companies that have joined the U.S Chamber of Commerce’s legal efforts to push back on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) decision announced last week that would prohibit international students from staying in the U.S. if their schools are only offering online classes in the fall. The tech companies are joining the Chamber’s amicus brief in support of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last week.
- As a reminder, last week we reported that ICE modified their Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). These modifications mandate that international students attending schools operating entirely online in the fall will not be allowed to take a full online course load and remain in the United States. If these students do not leave the country or transfer, they could face immigration consequences including deportation. ICE’s press release can be found here.
- The Los Angeles and San Diego unified public-school districts, which enroll over 825,000 students, announced that instruction will be remote-only in the fall. The announcement cited the rising COVID-19 cases in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas as reasons why schools could not return in the fall.
- New York and Seattle’s public-school districts have both announced that they will be utilizing a hybrid model of schooling, providing students with some time in school and the rest at home.
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented that a new decision on the Canada-U.S. border will be announced in the coming days. Both nations agreed to close their border in mid-March and the closure was extended through July 21.
- The European Union (EU) announced that they will not implement a tax on large American tech companies until the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) agrees on a digital tax deal. This reverses a previous announcement that said the EU would implement a digital tax if OECD failed to agree on a deal by the end of 2020.