COVID-19 Update | Monday, Oct. 19
October 19, 2020
The Senate is in session. The House is in recess.
- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) continued negotiations over the weekend. Progress is being made in some areas, most notably on language regarding testing, but the two sides remain apart on other major issues such as state and local relief.
- Speaker Pelosi indicated Sunday that Tuesday, October 20 is the cutoff date for negotiations to conclude if a package is to pass before the election.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reiterated that the Senate will hold a procedural vote on the $500B targeted relief package on Wednesday, October 21. Leader McConnell commented that there would be sufficient time to pass both the package and to confirm Judge Barrett before the election.
- Leader McConnell also indicated that the Senate would vote on standalone legislation related to the Paycheck Protection Program on Tuesday, October 20.
- It remains unlikely that additional relief will be enacted before the election.
- The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote Tuesday, October 20 to authorize subpoenas for Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear before the committee regarding their platforms’ perceived political bias. The subpoenas could require Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Zuckerberg to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee as soon as Friday, October 23.
- As a reminder, both Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Zuckerberg are also expected to appear before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee next week along with Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
- On Thursday, October 22 the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold an Executive Business meeting to consider several nominations, including Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The Committee will also consider Chairman Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) Online Content Policy Modernization Act (S. 4632) regarding online platforms’ Section 230 protections.
- The Department of Justice is expected to file its antitrust lawsuit against Google as soon as Monday, October 19. The lawsuit is expected to be filed without support from Democratic AGs. Democratic AGs and even some Republicans have decided not to sign on to the Federal suit because they argue it is too limited. Two separate cases, one led by Colorado’s Democratic and Nebraska’s Republican AG and another led by Texas’s Republican AG, will be filed against Google separately in the future.
- The Department of the Treasury released September Highway Trust Fund receipts on Friday, October 16. The receipts show a 22% increase over September 2019. However, published reports indicate that Treasury may be catching up on receipts that were not logged earlier in the year meaning these number may not be as encouraging as they seem. Similarly, the 79% decrease in receipts reported in May was likely exaggerated.
- The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) indicated that the Boeing 737 MAX could fly again in Europe before the end of the year. This could mean that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) could unground the aircraft even sooner, as EASA has said it will wait for an FAA decision.
- Separately, American Airlines has indicated it is prepared to schedule 737 flights pending an FAA decision.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule Friday, October 16 that would allow unlined coal ash ponds to remain in operation if the operating utility can demonstrate that the impoundment of the coal ash is unlikely harm the environment. The rule is the latest effort by the EPA to roll back regulations implemented by the 2015 coal ash rule.
- President Trump granted California’s disaster declaration regarding the ongoing wildfires on Friday, after first denying the request. The declaration will allow Federal funding to be provided to the state for wildfire cleanup. As a reminder, President Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has previously denied California’s request for a funds and a disaster declaration.
- Chief Judge Brian Morris of the U.S. District Court in Montana declared the three resource management plans (RMPs), the Lewistown RMP, Missoula RMP, and Miles City RMP amendment, as having no force or effect amid the ongoing legal battle regarding William Perry Pendley’s authority at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
- As a reminder, Judge Morris is the same judge who ruled that Pendley served as Acting Director of BLM unlawfully for 424 days.
- Amid continued back and forth on a global digital tax, the European Commission remains prepared to enact a European Union-wide digital tax. As a reminder, the French government will begin collecting a digital tax in December. The U.S. government has opposed these taxes because it argues the tax will unfairly target U.S. companies.
- According to a new report from sustainability organization Ceres, just over half of syndicated loans among major U.S. banks are vulnerable to an economic shift away from carbon-intensive goods and industries. This also means these loans are more at risk from climate change.
Federal Register Notices
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requested public comments on an information collection to determine the extent to which U.S. airlines and certificated U.S. airports have been able to implement recommended practices to reduce and mitigate the risks of COVID-19 transmission during air travel. Comments must be submitted by November 18. The notice can be found here.
- The FAA announced a virtual meeting of the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC) that will be held on November 17 from 1:00-4:00pm ET. The notice can be found here.
- The United States Trade Representative invited applicants for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) binational panels convened to review final determinations in antidumping or countervailing duty (AD/CVD) proceedings and amendments to AD/CVD statutes of a USMCA Party. These applicants would serve for the period April 1, 2021, through March 31, 2022. Applications must be received by November 16. The notice can be found here.
· The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposed rules to establish a reasonable period of time for a certifying authority to act on a water quality certification request related to natural gas and liquified natural gas projects for which either an application filed pursuant to section 3 or section 7(c) of the Natural Gas Act (NGA). Comments are due by November 18. The notice can be found here.
· The Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Budget Committee will hold an online meeting to consider budget issues as outlined in the Budget Committee agenda for the November 2020 Council Meeting on November 4 at 1:00pm PST. The notice can be found here.
· The Small Business Administration (SBA) posted an interim final rule relating to the implementation of Sections 1102 and 1106 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This interim final rule revises interim final rules by providing additional guidance concerning the forgiveness and loan review processes for PPP loans of $50,000 or less and lender responsibilities with respect to the review of borrower documentation of eligible costs for forgiveness in excess of a borrower’s PPP loan amount. The notice can be found here.