COVID-19 Update | Monday, April 20 (AM)
April 20, 2020
- Congress is close to a deal to inject more money into the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
- Elevate believes that the that deal could be finalized as soon as today in the Senate and include $300 billion in additional funds for the PPP – $65 billion for small lenders. We are also hearing that the deal may include $75 billion in disaster loans for small businesses, $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion for testing. The new package is likely to exceed $400 billion.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also indicated on Sunday that Congress and the Administration are close to a deal. If the Senate passes the deal today, the House could take it up Wednesday, if members cooperate and move the bill expeditiously.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that the only portion of the package that remains unresolved is language regarding COVID-19 testing.
- Separately, Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) proposed a $500 billion fund for state and local governments, which is consistent with what the Governors have requested.
- The first tranche would be allocated proportionally based on states’ percentage of the total U.S. population, with all states and D.C. set to receive at least $1.25 billion. Cities and counties with populations above 50,000 would also be eligible for specific aid.
- The second tranche would be allocated based on the state’s share of the total number of U.S. infections.
- The third would be based on the state’s loss of revenue resulting from shutdowns and stay-at-home orders.
- Speaker Pelosi has named Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) to the Congressional Oversight Commission to oversee the $2.2 trillion CARES Act. Majority Leader McConnell has named Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) to the same Commission.
- In an interview over the weekend, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) shared his belief that the Administration should focus on the distribution of tests to produce rapid results and that the testing itself should be handled by the states.
- Four members of the New Democrat Coalition sent a letter over the weekend to White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow on import duty payments. In the letter, Representatives Ron Kind (WI), Suzan DelBene (WA), Lizzie Fletcher (TX), and Gregory Meeks (NY) urged the Administration to defer import duty payments, citing that the issue is “too complicated” and that Kudlow’s recent explanation that the Administration would not defer payments was “completely unacceptable” given the current circumstances.
- Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) received data from JetBlue that airlines could be sitting on more than $10 billion in customer cash as they receive aid from the federal government. Other reports indicate that airlines have not been living up to their legal requirements to give customers refunds for canceled flights, which we have been reporting. As you all know, this has led to lawsuits being filed.
- The National Conference of State Legislatures wrote Congress late last week requesting $300 billion in funding, including $50B for transportation. The full letter can be found here.
- The Administration has agreed to delay debt collection of some import duties for 90 days due to COVID-19. However, this would not apply to tariffs imposed on Chinese goods, steel and aluminum products, and washing machines and solar energy products. This move comes just before a large batch of tariff payments are due tomorrow.
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expected to issue new guidance for pilots. Reports indicate that FAA guidance being issued, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), will address COVID-19 concerns among pilots.
- DOT approved several airlines’ requests for exemptions from minimum service requirements over the weekend. After denying requests from Spirit and JetBlue, the agency mostly granted exemptions requested by Delta, Hawaiian, and Alaska. DOT has yet to make decisions on the requests from a number of airlines, including American and United.
- A new report issued Friday by the FAA Inspector General found that the FAA’s drone registration and authorization systems don’t have adequate security or privacy controls. That full report can be found here.
- The President indicated over the weekend that he purposely excluded Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) from a Congressional task force on reopening the economy. As a reminder, Senator Romney voted to remove the President from office.
- The restaurant industry is lobbying the Administration and Congress to push insurance companies to cover “business interruption” claims resulting from COVID-19. Restaurants and some lawmakers are saying that business-shutdown orders in states and cities should constitute business interruptions under insurance companies’ existing policies.
- Reports indicate that CDC laboratories have been contaminated, delaying COVID-19 testing Stories cite “sloppy laboratory practices” as one of the causes.
- Families of those that were killed in the Boeing 737 Max crash in Ethiopia said over the weekend that money should be withheld from Boeing unless it is conditioned on aviation safety and corporate governance reform. Thousands of friends and family members of those who were killed have signed a petition with the Treasury Department directly. The petition outlines that no money should be given to Boeing unless it is no longer allowed to “self-certify” its own aircraft.
- Zipline, a drone delivery company, has begun delivering COVID-19 test samples from rural areas in Ghana to the country’s largest two cities. The company began operations on April 1 with 51 samples from patients at rural health centers being delivered to Accra.
- Canada is requiring all air travelers to wear face masks.
- On Friday, United Airlines applied to the Treasury Department for a roughly $4.5 billion loan made possible by the CARES Act.