COVID-19 Update | Wednesday, April 29
April 29, 2020
- The Senate is expected to return next week. Some members continue to have concerns about returning. This will be a process as they work through how to social distance, hold hearings and conduct markups. Many staff will continue to work remotely.
- The House will not be back next week, and a return date has not been announced. We anticipate they will not be back before mid-May and when they do return, they will likely vote on a next package of relief/mitigation/stimulus, which remains undefined at this point.
- Several Senate Committees are expected to hold hearings or Executive sessions when the Senate returns next week; however, the process for each has not yet been announced or determined. As noted above, the Senate will need to work through a process to hold hearings and markups and everything next week will be somewhat fluid.
- Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) today expressed concern about a large federal deficit amid massive borrowing to float the economy during the COVID-19 response.
- Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) indicated that House Democrats expect to release a plan to push federal aid to state and local governments to help with COVID-19 response shortly. The plan will likely include Private Activity Bonds and Build America Bonds, which are tax-advantaged borrowing programs. Further details may emerge later this week.
- The House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee is scheduled to hold an in-person subcommittee hearing next week regarding the federal government’s COVID-19 response. While the House is still planning not to be in session next week, hearings can still occur under House rules.
- Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi appointed seven Democratic members to a new House committee meant to oversee the Trump Administration’s COVID-19 response. The members include Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Small Business Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), as well as Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL) and Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ).
- Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) is scheduled to talk with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Steve Dickson and plans to push him to make facemasks a federal requirement for all passengers and employees on aircraft.
- House Democrats today introduced a bill that would bolster penalties when the Trump Administration violates federal budget law and increase transparency around the Executive Branch’s spending decisions. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced that he will introduce companion legislation in the Senate as well today.
- Reports indicate that Democrats have been working on the bill for months and that the impetus is what they view as a series of abuses by this and previous Administrations regarding actions to withhold or redirect appropriated money to further the President’s personal policy goals, including President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency last year to free up billions of dollars for a border wall, his freeze on hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine last summer and efforts to scrap billions of dollars in foreign aid, among other actions.
- As we shared earlier today, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that it will temporarily restrict incoming applications for small business rescue loans to only those submitted by the country’s smallest lenders. This limitation began at 4 PM and will go through the rest of the day and limits applications to lenders with under $1B in assets. After that, all eligible entities may continue applying. The SBA reserved the right to initiate the same procedure in the future.
- The Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a notice today allowing airlines to reduce their Essential Air Service (EAS) flights, while still receiving 50% of the per-flight subsidy issued for flights not operated given they conduct one trip per day, six days a week for that community. DOT will also not enforce EAS requirements unless the community objects to the elimination of service.
- Today, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released the advance estimate for gross domestic product (GDP) for the first quarter of 2020, finding that real gross domestic product contracted at an annual rate of 4.8%. More information can be found here.
- The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) requested today that families of deceased individuals who have received economic stimulus checks return those funds. Concerns have been raised about last year’s tax returns being utilized to disburse payments and families of deceased individuals receiving payments.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today issued guidance to address certain stakeholder questions and concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the mortgage origination process. The guidance can be found here.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci announced that “Remdesivir”, an antiviral drug tapped to help shorten the length of a COVID-19 infection, has shown “clear-cut, significant, positive effect” in shortening the recovery time of COVID-19 in a study conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The Food and Drug Administration is likely to authorize the use of the drug in the near term.
- The US medical technology industry, which continues to suffer from Trump Administration tariffs, has requested further exemptions for a range of parts for ventilators and other medical equipment from China.
- The bussing industry, which has lost 82,000 jobs and $14B in revenue, has requested federal aid to keep the industry afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Boeing reported a 26% fall in revenue in Q1, with a $1.4B loss. CEO David Calhoun indicated that losses can be attributed to issues with the 737 MAX, in addition to slowdowns due to COVID-19. Northrup Grumman and General Dynamics also announced first quarter drops in revenue in 2020.
- Boeing also announced that it planned to cut 10% of its workforce.
- After JetBlue notified the public that they would require facemasks for all passengers, flight attendant unions and some other airlines have indicated that all airlines should do the same.
- The American Bankers Association and the Credit Union National Association, and multiple other credit union groups, sent a letter urging SBA to more efficiently process emergency small business loans. The full letter can be found attached.