COVID-19 Update | Wednesday, July 29
July 29, 2020
The House and Senate are both back in session.
COVID-19 Relief Negotiations
- Negotiations continue to progress slowly and there is still no indication of a path forward. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have now met four times and progress remains elusive. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is not in these meetings. In addition, he has distanced himself from the HEALS Act.
- The HEROES Act, passed 10 weeks ago by the Democratic House, is being viewed by Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer as a foundation for the discussions. In conversations with various committee staff, Elevate understands that each of the committees are working through their respective “wish lists/needs” in anticipation of an agreement.
- President Trump and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin asserted they might seek to pass a short-term extension for unemployment benefits and the moratorium on evictions that were established under the CARES Act, H.R. 748.
- As a reminder, the moratorium on evictions expired over the weekend and unemployment benefits expire Friday.
- Speaker Pelosi indicated that a small package was not acceptable particularly since they had passed the HEROES Act. Minority Leader Schumer echoed that sentiment, as well, earlier today. As of right now, Elevate believes it remains unlikely that unemployment benefits will be extended before Friday. We anticipate that as part of a larger deal, they will be included in a final bill. The amount remains up for debate.
- Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced S. 4335, the Fly Together Act. The legislation would allow children to sit with their family members at no extra cost. The bill text can be found here.
- Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) is expected to introduce legislation to mandate that government procurement agencies sign long-term contracts for personal protective equipment (PPE) in the United States, or with western manufacturers.
- This is another sign that members of the U.S. government are trying to adjust medical supply chains away from China and toward the U.S.
- The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will convene a hearing titled, “Oversight of the Federal Trade Commission,” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 5, 2020. The hearing will provide members an opportunity to examine policy issues before the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and review the agency’s ongoing activities and proceedings. Witnesses will be:
- The Honorable Joe Simons, Chairman, Federal Trade Commission
- The Honorable Noah Phillips, Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
- The Honorable Rohit Chopra, Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
- The Honorable Rebecca Slaughter, Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
- The Honorable Christine Wilson, Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) sent a letter Tuesday asking the Trump Administration to turn over any correspondence between the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on guidance the agency released for reopening schools.
- The House considered of H.R. 7617, the second House appropriations minibus today and will continue to consider it for the remainder of the week with final passage expected Friday.
- The House Rules Committee made 340 amendments to H.R. 7617 in order.
- The Homeland Security appropriations legislation was pulled out of the minibus yesterday and likely will not be considered until after the election. The same is expected for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Both House and Senate versions of the NDAA have passed their respective chambers.
- The House passed H.R. 7575, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020, by voice vote. The Senate version, known as America’s Water Infrastructure Act, will likely not be considered until after the August recess.
- Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) tested positive for COVID-19. Gohmert was scheduled to fly with the President today on his visit to Texas. Gohmert also attended Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing with Attorney General William Barr in person.
- Speaker Pelosi announced a mandatory mask requirement for members and staff this evening.
- House Democratic lawmakers announced that they are investigating COVID-19 payroll support payments made to aviation contractors that have laid off thousands of workers, in violation of the “spirit of the CARES Act program.”
- The probe was initiated by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) (who is also Chairman of the Coronavirus Crisis Subcommittee), Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA).
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent two proposals related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the White House for review. One is guidance mandated by Congress in last year’s NDAA on how to dispose of waste containing PFAS. The other is a rule mandating a new round of drinking water testing that the Administration has indicated will include new monitoring requirements for PFAS.
- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the Treasury Department will make a recommendation to the President on TikTok this week on whether or not it should be able to operate in the United States.
- Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that the European Union’s (E.U) Green Deal could harm the chances of a trade agreement. Perdue said that the new policies impose trade barriers and could jeopardize agricultural output.
- The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is developing proposals for less-costly alternatives to a mandate requiring 100% screening of commercial air cargo prior to loading, including using third parties, as it seeks to come into compliance with international standards on air cargo security.
- During a TSA teleconference Wednesday, Cargo Airline Association President Stephen Alterman suggested affected air carriers should have the opportunity to weigh in, even though they would not be directly consulted under the alternative regulatory framework TSA is developing.
- United States Trade Representative (USTR) spokesperson Jeff Emerson said that the USTR has yet to be contacted by the E.U. “regarding actions they claim to have taken to come into compliance with World Trade Organization (WTO) rulings on the illegal subsidies provided to Airbus,” and thus continue to have concerns over Airbus subsidies.
- As a reminder, on Friday we reported that Airbus moved to stop subsidies for the A350 in a bid to end a decades-long dispute with Boeing over government aid. The company agreed to pay higher interest rates on loans granted by the governments of Spain and France where some of its main production sites are housed. The loans, known as Repayable Launch Investment, were found to be illegal by the WTO earlier this year. This move was also an attempt to get the USTR to end its retaliatory tariffs on European goods. Following Airbus’ move to end these subsidies, the E.U. called on the U.S. government to remove “unjustified tariffs on European products.”
- Federal Register Notices:
- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a request for information on innovative programs to reconnect youth to education and employment and promote self-sufficiency. The notice can be found here.
- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a notice of a partially closed Federal advisory committee meeting for the Homeland Security Advisory Council. The notice can be found here.
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of the Treasury issued temporary regulations on the recapture of the Excess Employment Tax Credit under the Families First Act and the CARES Act. The notice can be found here.
- The Department of Transportation (DOT) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a notice of public meeting for the Lithium Battery Air Safety Advisory Committee. The notice can be found here.
- The Executive Office of the President issued a Presidential Document on Delegation of Authority Under the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act of 2018. The notice can be found here.
- A group of 34 unions, led by the Transportation Trades Department (TTD), sent a letter to DOT Secretary Elaine Chao asking her to create regulations requiring the usage of face coverings for passengers who are travelling on DOT regulated commercial transportation providers. The letter can be found here.
- Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises, extended their global sailing suspension through October 31, 2020.
- As a reminder, in June, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. extended its suspension through the end of September before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an extended order in July.
- A new report released by Rewiring America found that an effort to decarbonize the American economy by 2035 would create millions of new jobs. The report found that the effort would entail a $3T investment from the Federal government and save the average American household around $2,000.
- Leila Afas, Toyota’s director of international public policy, said Tuesday that the proposed free trade agreement between the U.S. and the United Kingdom will likely not contain the same sort of rigorous auto rules of origin that are in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
- As a reminder, cars produced in Canada and Mexico must contain 75% North American content, including 70% North American steel and aluminum, to qualify for duty reductions under the USMCA.
- The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) urged FedEx to stop flights into Hong Kong after several pilots who tested positive for COVID-19 were held in government quarantine facilities.
- Boeing reported a 25% revenue drop in the second quarter compared to 2019. This drop is due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the issues with the 737 MAX.