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COVID-19 Update | Wednesday, March 25 (PM)

March 25, 2020

Congress

  • A deal was reached on the third COVID-19 package by the U.S. Senate, but last minute issues have delayed the filing of the final language and passage of the package at this time.
    • A group of Republicans Senators including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tim Scott (R-SC), Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Rick Scott (R-FL) are opposing a provision on increased unemployment insurance that the Senators feel would encourage workers to be unemployed because the additional $600 they would receive in unemployment insurance would be close to existing weekly salaries in many states. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) meanwhile announced he would place a hold on the legislation related to imposing stronger restrictions on the $500 billion in loans for businesses, States, and municipalities if the group of Republican Senators insisted on cutting the benefits.
    • If final language is agreed to, a vote on the package in the Senate is still possible this evening.
  • Speaker Pelosi and her Democratic Committee Chairs spent today walking caucus members through the specifics of the agreement through a series of one hour briefings.
  • The Speaker, in interviews this evening, stated that once the Senate passes the legislation the House will move to passage tomorrow by most likely a voice vote but that they are prepared to move to a recorded vote if necessary. The timing of a recorded vote is unknown at this time.

Administration

  • Major disaster declarations are in place for NY, CA, WA, IA, LA, TX, FL. Major disaster declarations provide States with access to additional federal resources than are available under an emergency declaration, but both are authorized by the declaration of a national emergency under the Stafford Act.
  • The Treasury Department will be issuing regulations to allow most FDIC banks to issue loans within the third COVID-19 package and Secretary Mnuchin expects that process to be in place by the end of next week.
  • Secretary Mnuchin clarified that the majority of payments to individuals, if possible, will be electronically deposited into Americans’ accounts and that paper checks will be mailed where direct deposit is unavailable.

Other News

  • The head of the World Trade Organization released a plea to governments across the world urging countries not to block the free flow of medical equipment across borders. To date, fifty-four governments have imposed temporary export restrictions on medical supplies and drugs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Reports indicate that at least 50,000 people are still stranded overseas due to COVID-19.
  • The World Health Organization continues to warn against lifting lockdowns too early.
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo indicated today that the bill is inadequate to meet his state’s needs. He noted that the bill provides $3.8 billion for New York State, of which only $1.3 billion will be sent to New York City. He also stated that this relief is far below the estimated $15 billion in lost revenues the state could ultimately face.
    • Governor Cuomo has engaged the New York House Congressional Delegation as well as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on the funding shortfalls.
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