COVID-19 UPDATE | FRIDAY, NOV. 13
November 13, 2020
Election and Transition News
– Friday afternoon several of the largest news outlets that had not yet called the Presidential Election in Georgia and North Carolina did so: CNN, the New York Times, Politico, and others, called Georgia for former Vice President Joe Biden and they called North Carolina for President Trump. With those calls, the final projected Electoral Vote count stands at 306 for Vice President Joe Biden, and 232 for President Donald Trump.
· Coincidentally, the Electoral Vote count for the 2020 Presidential Election is the same as in 2016, only inverted—Secretary Clinton lost to President Trump, 232 to 306.
· A hand-recount is underway in Georgia, which has a deadline to conclude by Wednesday evening, November 18.
· President Trump and his campaign withdrew their lawsuit contesting election results in Arizona, with the campaign’s counsel explaining to the court that the vote gap between the two candidates “rendered unnecessary a judicial ruling as to the presidential electors.”
– The U.S. on Thursday set another COVID-19 case record, with over 160,000 new cases reported. This is the first time more than 150,000 cases have been reported since the start of the pandemic and comes just over a week after the U.S. for the first time reported 100,000 cases in a single day.
· Hospitalizations nationwide climbed on Thursday, reaching 67,000, and deaths have averaged 1,000 per day over the last week.
· In the Midwestern parts of the United States, coroners have begun to deploy mobile morgues, similar to New York City at the beginning of the pandemic.
· As the pandemic continues to worsen, governors continue to implement restrictions. In Illinois, Governor Jay Pritzker (D) suggested that if the situation continues to deteriorate, the state may impose a stay-at-home order in the near future.
– Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) sent a letter to the Acting Secretary of Defense, Christopher Miller, to demand answers regarding reports that the Department of Defense redirected funds for personal protective equipment intended to shield personnel from COVID-19 (such as face masks).
– Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) said that he is finalizing negotiations on the American Energy Innovation Act (S. 2657) to impose a carbon fee. Sen. Coons believes that the bill will be supported by up to five Republican Senators, in addition to industry and advocates.
· Sen. Coons said that the bill will likely move early next year, if Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) continues to block it during the lame duck session.
– The Senate may vote on the nomination of Judy Shelton to join the Federal Reserve Board of Governors as soon as next week. Ms. Shelton is one two Federal Reserve nominees still pending in the Senate and was originally nominated 17 months ago along with Christopher Waller, the other nominee still pending. If confirmed, they would be President Trump’s fourth and fifth nominees to the Board.
– Reps. Mike Levin (D-CA), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Paul Tonko (D-NY), and Paul Cook (R-CA) introduced the Solar Jobs Preservation Act to bolster the solar Investment Tax Credit.
· According to a press release, the bill would make the tax credit temporarily refundable for solar projects that begin before the end of 2021, in order to combat financial challenges from COVID-19.
– Reps. Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Ted Budd (R-NC), and John Larson (D-CT) introduced the Fly Safe and Healthy Act (H.R. 8737) to create a temperature check pilot program as a part of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screenings.
– According to a press release, the bill would combat the spread of COVID-19 during air travel through a 120-day pilot program in which TSA would use temperature screening technology. TSA would deploy the program widely across airports after the completion of the pilot.
– The Senate companion bill was introduced by Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL).
– Reps. Garret Graves (R-LA), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), and Rick Crawford (R-AR) introduced a bill (H.R. 8741) to allow federal and state land acquisition funds to be available for coastal conservation, shoreline protection, and recreational access.
– Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA) introduced a bill (H.R. 8742) to extend the availability of amounts under the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
– The U.S. Government Accountability Office on Thursday publicly released its report, “Opportunities Exist to Reduce Risk for the Offshore Patrol Cutter Program.” The report came in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in 2018, which hit and severely damaged the shipyard where the Coast Guard’s next generation of Offshore Patrol Cutters was scheduled to begin, throwing the program to replace its aging fleet into jeopardy.
– The Labor Advisory Committee, a group of labor union representatives, expressed their support over the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) decision to conduct a Section 301 investigation into Vietnam’s currency manipulation. The Committee also recommended an 8.4% tariff on Vietnamese goods to combat currency undervaluation.
– The International Trade Commission (ITC) announced that it will continue its investigation of aluminum foil imported from Armenia, Brazil, Oman, Russia, and Turkey. The Commission said that it would “reasonable indication” that the foil is being sold under market price and subsidized, hurting U.S. industry.
· The Department of Commerce is expected to announce countervailing duties on December 23 and antidumping duties in March.
– New Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chair James Danly cancelled a conference on electric vehicles (EVs) that was scheduled to take place on December 3. The conference was meant to discuss increased EV deployment, charging infrastructure, and the impact on transmission systems and electricity markets.
· No explanation was given for the cancellation, but the conference was supported by former Chair Neil Chatterjee.
– The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a statement saying that “the November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.” CISA ensured that there is no evidence of votes being deleted, lost, changed, or compromised.
– The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) added the most current national transit-related data to the 2019 National Transit Database (NTD) site. The FTA also announced that transit agency profiles in the NTD will be published November 19.
– John Porcari, who served as Deputy Secretary of Transportation during the Obama Administration and currently is a transportation adviser to President-elect Biden, told state transportation leaders to prepare for a stimulus package next year, or to be ready for projects to be proposed in the context of next year’s surface transportation reauthorization legislation.
· Porcari helped manage the Obama Administration’s 2009 stimulus and commented that unlike that program, the Biden Administration would consider “not just shovel-ready projects, but shovel-worthy” projects. This is a reference to projects that will have longer-term benefits.
· Porcari also discussed the Department of Transportation’s interest in emerging technologies as it chooses projects.
– New Jersey may adopt the California medium-and-heavy-duty electrification rule put out in June, which called for 75% of medium- and heavy-duty truck sales to be zero-emissions by 2035. Governor Phil Murphy signed into law in January a directive that the state Department of Environmental Protection must establish goals for the electrification of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, leading to the state entering into a memorandum of understanding with of California that would bring New Jersey into alignment with their west coast counterpart’s requirements.
– Former House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Bill Shuster and former Rep. Jeff Denham published an op-ed in which they oppose country-of-origin bans for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Specifically, the two former lawmakers criticize current Congressional efforts on UAS bans as having “little justification beyond vague claims of security concerns.” They called for the development of risk-based standards and for cooperation between industry and government stakeholders.
· As a note, for Rep. Denham works for K&L Gates and is registered to lobby on behalf of Chinese drone-manufacturer DJI.
– The Solar Energy Industries Association released its vision for the Biden Administration and next Congress. Its recommendations include:
· Policies and personnel that favor renewable energy and its subsidization.
· Increased solar deployment.
· Easier permits for solar installations on public lands from the Department of the Interior.
· A nationwide permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.
· Implementation of the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act.
· Reexamination of Order 1000 to increase transmission lines linking wind and solar resources to population centers.