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November 3, 2020

Both the Senate and House are in recess. 



·       House Ways and Means Committee Democrats released a report detailing their concerns over the Administration’s enforcement of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The report focuses on the lack of forced labor prevention and enforcement cases by the U.S. Trade Representative and Department of Labor, the continued loss of automotive jobs to Mexico, and environmental provisions. 

o   As a reminder, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to the Administration expressing similar concerns over enforcement last week. 


·       The National Guard has 3,000 soldiers in 14 states to assist with cybersecurity, poll work, and potential civil unrest. The National Guard said that it is not planning to police the streets and is not currently on standby, though it is ready to respond if necessary. 

·       The deadline for comments on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) recommendations for Boeing 737 MAX pilot training requirements was yesterday. The FAA received a total of 31 comments, including one comment from the families of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 victims. This comment claimed that the recommendations were not sufficient to properly train pilots to handle emergencies. 

·       United Kingdom (U.K.) Trade Secretary Liz Truss said that the U.S. and U.K. are getting closer to a comprehensive free trade agreement after an intensive fifth round of talks. A majority of the issues are in advanced stages of negotiations and much of the legal text has been established. However, the completion of a deal before inauguration day depends on the outcome of U.S. elections. Continued talks will take place in the upcoming weeks. 

·       A group of nine environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the Administration’s repeal of a rule to protect drinking water from coal power plant toxic discharges. 

o   The Administration changed the technologies required to treat waste streams, gave power plants more time to change systems, and expanded the exemption for plants that are switching fuel sources. 

·       The Small Business Administration (SBA) distributed “loan necessity” questionnaires to large companies that received over $2M in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. 

o   The purpose of the questionnaire is to have businesses justify their need for the aid, which was intended for small businesses. 

·       The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that it is offering relief options to taxpayers to combat COVID-19-related financial issues.  

o   Specifically, the IRS will offer an additional two months to resolve tax liabilities, provide temporary collection delays, decrease penalties, extend payment plans, and expand access to installment agreements. 

Other News 

·       Today’s elections will see votes on multiple state ballot measures regarding transportation issues. These ballot measures include: 

o   California’s Prop 22, poses the question of whether rideshare companies should be able to continue classifying their drivers as independent contractors. A “yes” vote would support defining drivers as independent contractors. A “no” vote defers to California Assembles Bill 5 (2019) to decide whether app-based drivers are employees or independent contractors.  

o   Massachusetts’ “Right to Repair,” which would allow car owners and mechanics to access the same wireless vehicle data as dealers. 

o   Texas’ Prop A, which would permanently increase Austin’s property tax rate to fund $7B worth of transit improvements. Specifically, Austin would receive new light rail lines and rapid bus routes. 

o   Oregon’s Measure 26-218, which would provide $5B to expand Portland’s MAX light rail system and fund free youth transit passes to address transportation inequity. This measure would be funded by an additional 0.75% payroll tax on companies with over 25 employees. 

o   California’s Measure RR, which would fund and improve Caltrain in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties through an additional 0.125¢/$1 sales tax for 30 years. 

·       The question of whether to legalize sports betting will be determined through ballot measures in Maryland, Louisiana, and South Dakota today.  ·       The cruise industry voluntarily extended the timeline for cruise resumption past the October 31 date given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Cruise Lines International Association announced that cruises will have more time to prepare for testing, sanitation, and healthcare requirements by delaying U.S. operations through December 31. 

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