COVID-19 Update | Thursday, April 16
April 16, 2020
- The Senate remained in deadlock on additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other additional CARES Act funding. A deal is recognized by both parties as essential, but timing remains uncertain. If a deal is reached, it could be considered expeditiously. The Senate will have their next Pro Forma session on Monday, which is the soonest the Senate could act.
- As we reported this morning, the PPP has hit the cap of funds available ($350 billion) and is unable to make additional loans until more funds are appropriated.
- Democratic leaders remain in talks with the Trump Administration over a deal to provide additional funding for several high-profile CARES Act provisions, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated that no progress has been made on a deal.
- House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) issued a statement with Majority Leader McConnell last night on the immediate need to replenish the PPP. The full release can be found here.
- Majority Leader McConnell issued another press release today urging Democrats to stop blocking emergency funding for the now depleted PPP. The full release can be found here.
- Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also made a statement, continuing to highlight the Democratic priorities of supporting those unable to access the PPP, state and local governments, and hospitals. The full letter can be found here.
- House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA) introduced a plan to institute remote voting for House members to continue operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The proposal simply requires a member who cannot vote in person to request a present member to vote on their behalf.
- The Administration tonight rolled out their plan to reopen the country, entitled “Opening Up America Again”, which outlines the phased approach the federal government will be taking. A copy of the guidelines that were released prior to the task force briefing tonight can be found here.
- The Administration indicated that their approach is based on up-to-date data and readiness and is focused on the mitigation of a resurgence of COVID-19. The guidelines set benchmarks for declines in reported symptoms, cases, and hospital visits over 14-day periods for states to enter into each phase of their plan.
- The Administration emphasized the importance of finding, isolating, and contact tracing asymptomatic individuals, especially in vulnerable populations like nursing homes. The guidelines continued to emphasize the importance of simple hygiene and protective actions.
- The Administration also today issued a press release regarding phone calls with Republican and Democratic Members of the House of Representatives and Senate that are serving on the Opening Up America Again Congressional Group. That release and a full list of the group can be found here.
- The President hosted an event today for American truckers at the White House. American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear was present in addition to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. During the event, the President praised truck drivers who have been delivering critical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic and shared his optimism of an infrastructure measure that would target roadways in need of repairs.
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued new guidance for airlines to ensure they are safely and securely shipping cargo in passenger cabins. The guidance comes as airlines look to utilize empty flights as additional revenue sources for their cargo businesses. The full FAA Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) can be found here.
- Several environmentalists have filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require the agency to respond to a petition from environmentalists advocating against the EPA’s relaxing of compliance requirements for oil, gas, and chemical companies during the pandemic.
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) continues to release COVID Tax Tips, with their most recent tip urging taxpayers to be on the lookout for IRS impersonation calls, texts, and email phishing attempts about the COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments. This tip can be found here and other current COVID-19 tax tips can be found here.
- Federal Register Notices
- The United States Election Assistance Commission is holding a virtual meeting to discuss the election response to the COVID-19 crisis. The full notice and information on the meeting can be found here.
- The Homeland Security Advisory Council announced a May 7th virtual meeting regarding sensitive operational information from senior officials on intelligence, border security, transportation security, cybersecurity and infrastructure. The full notice and meeting information can be found here. The timing on the virtual meeting may change due to the pandemic.
- The trucking industry continues to see reductions in volume and a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) commissioned report outlines increasing numbers of sick drivers and shifts in demand. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry was facing a driver shortage. Efforts to address the shortage are a key priority for the industry going forward.
- After receiving their first round of CARES Act aid, airlines are beginning to assemble applications for further aid from the $29 billion in industry specific loans provided in the CARES Act.
- Southwest, United, Spirit, and some Canadian Air Carriers are facing lawsuits from customers over their issuing credits instead of refunds for canceled flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 5.2 million Americans filed jobless claims last week according to the Labor Department. In total, more than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment during the COVID-19 response.
- Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram have begun prompting users to check their healthcare coverage status under the Affordable Care Act.
- G-20 countries have agreed to suspend debt payments from low-income countries for the rest of the year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A group of seven midwestern Governors have announced that their states will coordinate reopening plans. The states include Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. The Administration continues to urge states to work together to reopen.