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COVID-19 UPDATE | MONDAY, JUNE 29 (PM)

June 29, 2020

Congress

Senate Activities

  • As we have been reporting, the Senate will continue floor consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Though Armed Services Committee leadership hoped to complete consideration on the Senate floor this week, it is increasingly unlikely. This means that the NDAA will finish being considered in the same three weeks set aside for an additional COVID-19 relief package. We anticipate that there will be a Manager’s Amendment, or two, before the July 4 break that will incorporate a number of amendments to smooth the process further.
    • This evening, the Senate approved the motion to proceed to the NDAA vehicle, clearing its next procedural hurdle.
  • Following up on last week’s hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will host a hearing on “COVID-19: Update on Progress Toward Safely Getting Back to Work and Back to School.” The witnesses will be:
    • Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health
    • ADM Brett P. Giroir, M.D., Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    • Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., Commissioner, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
    • Robert R. Redfield, M.D., Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • The focus on infrastructure this week will be in the House, where H.R. 2 consideration will dominate, but infrastructure is also the topic of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works hearing titled “Better, Faster, Cheaper, Smarter, and Stronger: Infrastructure Development Opportunities to Drive Economic Recovery and Resiliency.” The witnesses will be:
    • Jason Grumet, President, Bipartisan Policy Center
    • Robert Lanham Jr., President, Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) Board 2020, President, Williams Brothers Construction Co., Inc.
    • Christy Goldfuss, Senior Vice President, Energy and Environment Policy, Center for American Progress
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee will host a markup of S. 3398, the EARN IT Act of 2020 on Thursday. As a reminder, this legislation was originally scheduled for committee consideration last week but was delayed.

House Activities

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that she will extend the House’s remote voting period through August 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The original bill authorized remote voting for 45 days with an optional 45-day extension.
  • Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA), Val Demmings (D-FL), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Joe Neguse (D-CO), David Ciciline (D-RI) and Madeline Dean (D-PA) introduced the “Congressional Inherent Contempt Resolution” a bill that formalizes and expands “inherent contempt,” and allows Congress to punish anyone who defies a subpoena for testimony or documents. A press release on the bill can be found here.
  • Rep. James Comer (R-KY) was named the new Ranking Member on the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
    • As we reported last week, there was a three-way race between Comer, Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) and Rep. Mark Green (R-TN).
  • House Democratic Appropriations leadership informed lawmakers that they plan to pass a majority of the appropriations bills during the weeks of July 20 and July 27. However, the Homeland Security appropriations legislation will not be passed until after the August recess, following a trend that has seen it as one of the more controversial bills during the Trump Administration.
  • The House Financial Services Committee will host a hearing on Tuesday entitled “Oversight of the Treasury Department’s and Federal Reserve’s Pandemic Response.” The witnesses will be:
    • Steve Mnuchin, Secretary, Department of the Treasury
    • Jerome Powell, Chairman, Federal Reserve Bank – Chairman Powell’s testimony can be found here.

General Congress

  • Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle requested briefings from the White House on the report that Russia offered bounties for militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. House Armed Services Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) told reporters that they have requested an immediate briefing. Senate Armed Services Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) has also requested a briefing. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Gina Haspel requesting information as well.
    • The White House announced plans to brief House Republican lawmakers including House Armed Services Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-TX), House Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX), House Freedom Caucus Chair Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committee Members, including Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Jim Banks (R-IN) today.


Administration

  • The Department of Labor will issue an interim final rule on the high-wage components of the labor value content requirements under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on July 1. The comments are due 60 days after publication. The notice can be found here.
  • The White House threatened to veto H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, which the House is set to pass this week. The White House claimed that the bill is “biased against rural America” and full of “wasteful” initiatives from the Green New Deal.

Other News

  • Airlines For America (A4A) member airlines will ask customers to confirm information about their current health, including asking if they have COVID-19 symptoms or recently have come into contact with someone who has tested positive, when they check in for flights. A press release on the guidelines can be found here.
  • Amazon announced plans to purchase autonomous ride sharing service Zoox for more than $1.2B.
  • Reddit announced on Monday that it banned a forum which is used by supporters of President Donald Trump as a part of its efforts against hateful conduct. The forum had over 790,000 subscribers.
  • Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) has released a report on airport asks and goals related to COVID-19 recovery. The report outlines findings of ACI-NA’s Airport Industry Recovery Advisory Panel. Highlights include:
    • $13B in additional aid from Congress;
    • Supplemental appropriations for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staffing;
    • Liability protections for airports;
    • Direct federal funding toward maintaining Transportation Security Administration (TSA) staffing levels and procuring technologies to reduce physical touch points during screening, including potential reconfiguration of checkpoints;
    • Increase enrollment in trusted traveler programs like PreCheck; and
    • Create a “strategic plan” for processing travelers from other countries.
  • China announced plans to place visa restrictions on U.S. individuals in retaliation for sanctions the U.S. put on China due to Hong Kong. As a reminder, the Senate passed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act last week, which sanctioned China for attempting to implement a national security law on Hong Kong.
  • A Federal judge has ruled against six Native-American tribes that sued the Trump Administration over their plans to give the for-profit Alaska Native corporations funding under the CARES Act. The lawsuit claimed that these for-profit organizations were being treated as native governments in order to reduce the amount of funding available to other tribal governments. However, the judge in the District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Alaska Native corporations should be considered tribal governments under the CARES Act.
  • Honda, Ford, Volkswagen and BMW said that they will not join a lawsuit over the Trump Administration’s rollback of Federal emission standards.

Gilead, the manufacturer of COVID-19 drug Remdesivir, set the price of the drug at $390 per vial, or $2,340 per patient. Private insurers will pay $520 per vial, or $3,120 for five days of treatment.

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