COVID-19 Update | Monday, July 27 (PM)
July 27, 2020
The House and Senate are both back in session.
COVID-19 Relief Negotiations
- Senate Republicans released the Republican proposal for the next COVID-19 relief bill, the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act. Negotiations between now and the August recess will be intense, as there remain many significant areas of disagreement among Republican Senators and with Democrats. Republican Senators held a press conference outlining the major tenets the Republican proposal including, but not limited to:
- An over $306B appropriations title, including $226.2B for the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education subcommittee, $29.4B for the Defense Subcommittee, $20B for the Agriculture-Food and Drug Administration-Rural Development subcommittee, and $13B for the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee.
- The Republican liability protection proposal, “The Safeguarding America’s Frontline Employees to Offer Work Opportunities Required to Kickstart the economy (SAFE TO WORK) Act,” which would provide liability protections for businesses, nonprofits, schools, colleges, workers and healthcare providers.
- A Senate Finance Committee title, for which a section-by-section is attached, which includes, among other things:
- A reduction of Federal unemployment benefits from $600 to $200 per week for a 60-day period, or until states can adopt a system to provide 70% wage replacement.
- Additional $1,200 stimulus payments to Americans.
- Income limits for the full, $1,200 stimulus checks are $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for families.
- $500 for each dependent in a family, mirroring the CARES Act.
- The Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act, a section-by-section for which is attached, which, among other things, includes a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for the hardest hit businesses.
- Education provisions mostly contained in the Safely Back to School and Back to Work Act.
- The Restoring Critical Supply Chains and Intellectual Property Act, for which a section-by-section is attached, which combines provisions that place a focus on domestic production of medical supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who introduced the provision, announced that PPE would be folded into the so-called Berry Amendment that requires U.S. military uniforms to be U.S. made. This change would require PPE to made in the U.S. to refill the National Strategic Stockpile.
- Graham also noted that there is a $7.5B tax credit that would incentivize American manufacturers to start producing PPE.
- Sen. Graham additionally announced the inclusion of CHIP Act, legislation on domestic semiconductor production.
- The Time to Rescue United States’ Trusts (TRUST) Act to create rescue committees for the Federal government’s “endangered” trust funds.
- The Supporting Americas Restaurant Workers Act, which provides a 100% deduction for business meals through the end of 2020. Currently, the deduction is available for only 50% of such expenses.
- Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Sustaining Tourism Enterprises During the COVID-19 Pandemic (STEP) Act. The legislation would authorize $10B in funding through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to provide grants for tourism and events for entities impacted by COVID-19.
- Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led a letter of 10 Democrats to Anthony Tata, who is currently President Trump’s nominee to be the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, demanding that he withdraw from consideration for the role. The letter cited Tata’s use of Islamophobic remarks and derogatory comments about elected Democratic officials. The letter can be found here.
- The House honored the late Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) today. The House will be in session next on Wednesday.
- As we reported this morning, the House Rules Committee will meet Tuesday to determine what amendments will be considered as part of the debate on the second minibus, H.R. 7617, setting the legislation up for floor consideration later in the week. As a reminder, H.R. 7617 includes the Defense, Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy and Water Development, Financial Services and General Government, Homeland Security, Labor-Health and Human Services-Education, and Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development measures.
- The House is currently expected to consider H.R. 7617 on Friday.
- After reports that National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien had tested positive for COVID-19, National Economic Council (NEC) Director Larry Kudlow said that O’Brien contracted the virus on vacation and was not exposed to the President or the Vice President.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has postponed a scheduled furlough of 13,000 employees scheduled to take place by August 31. This comes after Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Jon Tester (D-MT) sent a letter to Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Chad Wolf, urging DHS to delay the move.
- In addition to the $7.6M investment into high-capacity tests we reported on this morning, the Administration is also investing an additional $472M in a potential COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Moderna.
- Moderna announced that Phase 3 trials for their COVID-19 vaccine began today. This phase of the trial is expected to enroll 30,000 people, half of whom will receive two doses of the vaccine and half who will receive two doses of a placebo.
- The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Inspector General will review the EPA’s rollback of auto emissions standards according to a memo released today. The memo can be found attached.
- States continue to struggle with large revenue shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic that put additional state and local aid in the next COVID-19 relief package into sharper focus. Florida is reportedly facing a $1.9B revenue shortfall.
- Executives from fourteen travel companies across the U.S., including the U.S. Travel Association, Marriott, Hyatt and Hilton Hotels, sent a letter to President Trump and Congressional leadership which urged that the Federal government ramp up its COVID-19 testing efforts and include the bipartisan TEST Act, S.4163, which would strengthen Federal COVID-19 testing efforts, in the next COVID-19 package.
- Google announced that employees will be allowed to continue to work from home through June 2021.
- The American Bankers Association, the Bank Policy Institute, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, TechNet, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other trade groups wrote a letter to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH), which urged the passage of legislation that would mandate that issuers of certain securities disclose the racial, ethnic and gender composition of their boards.
- About 4,000 federal employees are seeking disability compensation on grounds that they contracted COVID-19 while at work. Survivors of 60 deceased employees are seeking death benefits for the same reason. The report from the Department of Labor containing these statistics can be found here.
- The German government announced they will mandate COVID-19 testing for all travelers returning from countries that they consider high-risk, including the U.S. and Turkey.