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COVID-19 Update | Monday, July 20 (AM)

July 20, 2020


General Congress

  • Negotiations on the next COVID-19 relief package are expected to begin today as Congress returns from the July 4 recess. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) are all expected to meet today to discuss the next bill.
    • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent a Dear Colleague letter stressing the importance of unity within the Democratic caucus during negotiations on the next COVID-19 relief package.
    • It is expected that the bill will include an expanded employee retention tax credit, which has seen bipartisan support. As a reminder, House Democrats expanded the employee retention tax credit by more than $160B in the HEROES Act and it is likely that any expansion to the tax credit in this next package will be more modest.
    • Other potential issues to be addressed in the next package are changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), including allowing the deducting of expenses paid for with PPP loan funds, as well addressing the multiemployer pension plan crisis.
    • General business credits are also slated to be discussed. These credits would allow businesses to accelerate general business credits for a quick influx of capital.
    • Lastly, Elevate expects liability shields for businesses, schools, and other entities, and expanded unemployment insurance to be two areas of debate between Republicans and Democrats as negotiations on this next package commence.


  • The Senate will continue considering its National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already limited debate on the legislation which will allow for procedural votes and final passage this week.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee released declassified documents relating to the Steele Dossier and the investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia on Friday. The documents are below:
    • 57-page summary of a three-day interview the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted with Christopher Steele’s “Primary Sub-Source” in January of 2017.
    • Peter Strzok’s annotated comments on a New York Times story about alleged ties between Russian intelligence and the Trump campaign.
  • The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a markup Wednesday to consider pending legislation, including S. 3958, the Expedited Delivery of Airport Infrastructure Act. A full schedule for the markup can be found here.
  • As we reported last week, the European Union’s (E.U.) top court invalidated the so-called Privacy Shield data transfer agreement. This led Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) to call for a successor framework.
    • As a reminder, the E.U.-U.S. Privacy Shield major agreement governed the transfer of E.U. citizens’ data to the U.S. and was struck down by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The agreement let companies sign up to higher privacy standards, before transferring data to the U.S.


  • House leadership has tailored the floor schedule to decrease the total number of votes that need to be taken. The decision was made to increase the safety of Members amid rising COVID-19 cases across the country.
    • Votes on appropriations amendments and the NDAA will likely be held in large blocks, if possible, to minimize the time Members have to spend on the floor and risk possible exposure.
    • First votes in the House are expected between 11:30am-1:00pm today.
  • The House Rules Committee met into the evening hours on Friday to determine consideration of amendments and procedure for consideration for H.R. 6293, the William M. (Mac) Thornberry NDAA for Fiscal Year 2021, as well as H.R. 1957, the Great American Outdoors Act and other legislation to be considered by the House this week.
  • The rule for the legislation considered by the House Rules Committee on Friday can be found here. 407 amendments were made in order for the NDAA. As of this morning, there was no indication of which amendments, if any, would be grouped together to be considered “en bloc” meaning consideration of the NDAA could stretch late into Tuesday. Highlights of a few amendments that were included are below:
    • An amendment that would ban federal agencies from buying and using drones made in China and other countries that might threaten national security. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a non-partisan think tank, argued in a recent post that a country-of-origin ban wouldn’t address national security concerns.
    • An amendment that would bar government workers from using TikTok on their government-issued devices. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will vote on a similar anti-TikTok bill on Wednesday during a markup. The full agenda for that markup can be found here.
    • An amendment from House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) containing the text of the Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Reauthorization Act of 2020.
    • An amendment that would cut overall defense spending by 10%, offered by Co-Chairs of the House Progressive Caucus Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Mark Pocan (D-WI). A similar amendment was offered to the Senate NDAA by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
  • A number of high-profile amendments were not made in order for floor consideration, including:
    • Two amendments related to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). One would have repealed the AUMF and one would have limited the AUMF to countries where the U.S. military is currently engaged in hostilities. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who had offered two separate amendments repealing the 2001 and 2002 AUMF, withdrew her amendments.
    • An amendment from Reps. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and John Shimkus (R-IL) that would have removed language related to Ligado Networks. As a reminder, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved Ligado’s plans, while the Department of Defense, and others in the Federal government, have raised concerns about their technology disrupting GPS.
    • An amendment adding the text of House Democrats’ legislation on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The legislation already passed the House in January. However, a number of other PFAS amendments, including one to require more stringent public disclosure of their release, one to require a new study of the chemicals’ use in firefighting foam, and one to require action plans when foam containing PFAS is used, were made in order.
  • The first House Appropriations package that is set to be voted on this week includes the State and Foreign Operations, Agriculture and Rural Development, Interior and Environment and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs appropriations bills. The House Rules Committee will meet today to prepare the legislation and determine the amendments eligible for floor consideration. The legislation will be considered after the NDAA, likely pushing it to Thursday or Friday.
    • The Agriculture and Rural Development spending bill includes more than $1B for expanding broadband internet infrastructure, which amounts to an increase of $435M above this current fiscal year and provides $990M for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect broadband pilot program, an expansion over recent years.
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) is expected to aggressively push for an extension of the payroll aid to airlines that was passed as part of the CARES Act in the next COVID-19 relief package. The Chairman is expected to canvass for signatures for his proposal this week and aviation unions are expected to make a heavy push for the extension as well. As a reminder, nearly every major airline has warned of the possibility of large furloughs in the fall.
  • House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Rush (D-IL) voiced their concern with changes approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last week to alter payments to renewable energy projects under the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act. The two stated that this move “will have the effect of stifling competition and threatening renewables,” and that “FERC’s action is particularly irresponsible now, as clean energy jobs are among those being lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, and American families are desperate for more affordable energy.”
  • Conversations continue surrounding the format of the House Judiciary Committee hearing next week featuring the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Most recently, American Economic Liberties Project leadership called for each executive to testify separately. As a reminder, we reported that House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH) raised his concerns with the format of the hearing last week.
  • Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) led a Democratic letter urging House leadership to include language in upcoming funding bills to ban the use of any Federal money, including grants to state and local governments, on any facial recognition software or contract.


  • President Trump again threatened to veto the NDAA over the renaming of military bases in an interview with Fox News on Sunday. He also doubled down on a potential veto of additional COVID-19 relief if the package did not contain a payroll tax cut, which he has long pushed despite little support among both Republican and Democrats for the provision in Congress.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to begin a two-day trip to London today to thank Prime Minister Boris Johnson for banning the purchase of new 5G equipment from Huawei and starting to distance the United Kingdom (U.K.) from China. Secretary Pompeo is also expected to speak with Prime Minister Johnson about COVID-19 economic recovery, issues related to China and Hong Kong generally, and the status of bilateral trade talks.
  • President Donald Trump will appoint Michael Miklos to be Deputy Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), according to a release from the White House on Friday. Miklos will replace Patricia Cogswell, who has served as Acting Deputy Administrator for the past two years. It is unclear at this time whether Cogswell will remain at TSA or move to a different job.
  • The public comment period ended last week in the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) investigation of digital services taxes that have been adopted or are under consideration in the E.U. and specifically nine countries: Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, India, Indonesia, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the U.K. The next step is for USTR to issue its determination as to whether the taxes unfairly target U.S. companies. It is likely that USTR will conclude that they do, meaning it would publish 10 separate proposed retaliation lists.
  • Federal Register Notices:
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced they will be hosting a public meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on August 26. The notice can be found here.
    • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced they will be streamlining rules to facilitate the deployment of small satellites. The FCC also announced that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved, for a period of three years, the information collection associated with the revisions to the FCC’s rules. The notice can be found here.
    • The National Park Service (NPS) proposed to revise regulations which govern the solicitation, award, and administration of concession contracts to provide commercial visitor services at NPS units under the authority granted through the Concessions Management Improvement Act of 1998 and the National Park Service Centennial Act. The notice can be found here.
    • The U.S. National Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued 21 exemptions in response to requests from 13 licensees. The exemptions allow these licensees temporary relief from certain requirements under NRC regulations. The exemptions are in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The exemptions were issued between June 2 and June 30, 2020. The notice can be found here.

Other News

  • The U.S. surpassed 140,000 deaths due to COVID-19 this weekend and confirmed cases rose to 3,773,260.
  • Morgan Stanley will become the first major U.S. bank to publicly disclose the climate impact of its loans and investments. The bank is also joining the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials which consists of 67 global financial company members that manage $5.3T in assets. The group will count the greenhouse gas emissions from projects and investments that are financed byasset managers, banks, and other institutions and Morgan Stanley will be a member of its steering committee.
  • The National Association of Manufacturers is reportedly pushing to use the next COVID-19 package to roll back part of the 2017 tax law that would force companies to write off research and development expenses over a number of years starting in 2022.
    • Some reports have indicated that in the research and development realm, the next package could include a tax credit for vaccine research.
  • The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is expected to have blueprints of a global tax rules overhaul ready to go for the scheduled October meeting. As a reminder, the U.S., and specifically Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, have signaled that the U.S. is not yet interested in engaging in these talks.
    • Finance officials from the G20 on Saturday vowed to “reach a global and consensus-based solution” over how to collect taxes from large internet companies like Apple and Google this year.
  • A recently published report from the Boston Consulting Group found that global trade is projected to drop 20% this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The report also found that global trade will not revert back to 2019 levels until 2023.
  • Carmakers and tech companies continue to push for autonomous vehicle legislation this Congress, especially in light of the Moving Forward Act, H.R. 2, failing to include robust language on autonomous vehicles. House Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairwoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) stated that there are many vehicle safety provisions related to autonomous vehicles, like crash avoidance mandates, in H.R. 2 that “are necessary for autonomous vehicles” and will help pave the way to their deployment.
  • A task force consisting of school transportation groups released a report on Friday, aimed to serve as a resource for school systems when considering the return of in-person schooling in the fall, and including more than 250 tasks for consideration in the process of getting kids back to school during the pandemic.
    • The recommendations range from ensuring that school districts have enough personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies, to keeping buses disinfected, to updating face covering and social distancing policies is called Student Transportation Aligned for Return to School (STARTS).
  • Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions Forum and the Conservative Energy Network will kick off a three-day virtual fly-in today with more than 90 business leaders, farmers and state officials. The event will include more than 70 meetings with conservative leaders in Congress to advocate for greater investment in clean energy.
    • The American Public Power Association is expected to hold a similar virtual fly-in this week with its Policy Makers Council. The council is set to discuss necessary assistance for public power communities, municipal bond modernization, and smart infrastructure investment and climate change.
  • The E.U. is reportedly preparing a law that could allow its executive body, the European Commission, to retaliate against U.S. tariffs by imposing sanctions on the intellectual property of large tech companies.
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