COVID-19 Update | Monday, July 6, 2020 (AM)
July 6, 2020
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the next COVID-19 relief package needs to protect kids, protect jobs, and reform liability laws so entities cannot get sued. Liability protection issues remain a red line issue for Senate Republicans.
- Senate Democrats on the other hand continue to push for increased funding for state and local governments, additional unemployment insurance, direct payments to Americans, and bolstering testing in the next COVID-19 relief package.
- Both sides currently agree that a package will come in the next work period. However, to date, no discussions are taking place. This next work period will be very busy with consideration of annual spending bills, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and further COVID-19 relief.
- Lawmakers reportedly view July 31 as an “unofficial deadline” for the next COVID-19 bill. As a reminder, unemployment benefits expire on July 31, but it is also when the House is set to recess for the August break and viewed as a last opportunity to achieve any major legislative accomplishments before the November election. The Senate is scheduled to recess August 7.
- Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that the push to rename military bases is bipartisan, even though the President opposes it.
- As a reminder, the House and Senate’s NDAA bills include a provision to rename military bases honoring Confederate commanders. The House is also planning to vote on a bill to replacea bust of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney from the Capitol.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters late last week that she and her party anticipate that they will “have a bill,” referring to another COVID-19 relief bill, in the coming weeks. Speaker Pelosi also said she will not be leaving for the two-week July 4 recess to continue work in Washington, D.C.
- Bill texts, summaries, reports, and fact sheets for some of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 House Appropriations bills were released over the weekend.
- The FY 2021 funding bill for State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs proposes billions in emergency COVID-19 funding and a restoration of U.S. contributions to the World Safety Organization (WHO).
- The legislation includes $200M for WHO, as well as a requirement that the money be provided within 60 days of the bill becoming law.
- The FY 2021 funding bill for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Related Agencies includes $24B that aims to boost rural broadband and also restricts the Trump Administration from easing meatpacking regulations or curbing food-stamp eligibility during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The FDA would also receive $3.2B in discretionary funds in FY 2021, an increase of $40M from current levels.
- The House and Senate are in recess this week for the July 4 recess through July 17, but with Committees meeting in the House. Both are set to return on Monday, July 20.
- The Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released new COVID-19 guidance for airlines and airports to help combat the spread of COVID-19 as air travel continues to increase.
- The guidance recommends that face coverings be mandated throughout airports and onboard airplanes.
- The guidance, entitled Runway to Recovery, can be found here. The guidance also includes recommendations related to social distancing, temperature checks, health self-declarations, testing for COVID-19 and more.
- Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia yesterday stated that while the unemployment benefit was an important step in providing COVID-19 relief to Americans, “There are some states where you can get on an annual basis, $75,000 a year right now on unemployment. And I think as we reopen the economy, I don’t know that we need a benefit like that.”
- The White House continues to push for a payroll tax cut and it is expected that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows will likely be the key negotiator for an upcoming COVID-19 package, as opposed to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
- The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) posted the updated United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Uniform Regulations. All updates made to the previous regulations were technical in nature. The updated regulations can be found here.
- Federal Register Notices
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a notice of final disposition and a grant of application for exemption to the Department of Energy for a renewal of its exemption from the 30-minute rest break provision of the Agency’s hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. The notice can be found here.
- An operational readiness review for the Boeing 737 MAX is anticipated over the next several weeks and will utilize federal pilots along with airline crews from around the world, all intended to vet changes to the fleet’s flight-control system.
- The goals of the airborne checks and ground-simulator sessions are to determine how well average airline pilots globally will be able to handle emergencies using the revised software.
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will not attend an in-person meeting in Washington, D.C. this week. Prime Minister Trudeau signaled he may not attend last week, citing recent U.S. tariffs and the COVID-19 pandemic.
- As a reminder, President Donald Trump and Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador are scheduled to meet in the U.S. this week on July 8-9 to commemorate the USMCA entry into force which occurred this past week on July 1.
- Four U.S. states, Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, reported a combined 25,000 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Thursday as the infection curve rose in 40 of the 50 states heading into the July 4 holiday weekend.
- The U.S. also recorded its largest single-day total of COVID-19 infections on Friday since the start of the pandemic with 57,497 confirmed cases.
- South Carolina, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and California reported record numbers of current COVID-19 hospitalizations. The U.S.’ seven-day average of new deaths fell to 485, down from 562 on June 28, but health experts cautioned that the count of infections would soon drive the number back up.
- A recent poll from Public Opinion Strategies found that 80% of voters, including 76% of independents and 73% of Democrats, support legislation to shield restaurants, workers and schools from being sued over COVID-19 if they reopen during the pandemic.
- The Supreme Court ruled that Alabama does not have to loosen ballot restrictions because of COVID-19.
- The vote was 5 to 4, with the court’s conservatives in the majority. Neither the majority nor the four justices who noted their dissent, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, supplied the reasoning for their votes.