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June 15, 2020


Senate Activities

  • As a reminder, the Senate is expected to pass H.R. 1957, the Great American Outdoors Act tonight.
  • The Senate Appropriations Committee will receive testimony tomorrow from Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai regarding FCC’s airwaves auctions.
    • Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) is expected to press Chairman Pai on the latest developments regarding the FCC’s proposed auction of the 5G-friendly airwaves of the C-Band, which is currently scheduled for this December. Chairman Pai will be the sole witness.
  • Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) indicated that it is unlikely that the Senate will consider its policing reform legislation before the July 4 recess. This would mean that the legislation would contend for Floor time with additional COVID-19 relief in the three weeks before the Senate currently plans to leave for the August recess.

House Activities

  • Members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee have introduced over 120 amendments to H.R. 2, the INVEST in America Act, in advance of the markup on Wednesday. Republicans are also expected to offer a substitute amendment, ahead of or during the markup on Wednesday.
    • Some notable amendments include creating a new grant program for cybersecurity at Amtrak, instituting a transportation workforce outreach program, and boosting evacuation routes.
      • However, many of the amendments either increase funding for specific programs or adjust definitions for provisions that are already contained in the bill.
  • Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), and a group of House Democrats are requesting information from the Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration (SBA) regarding Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan recipients. In the letter, Majority Whip Clyburn expressed concern that funds intended for small businesses in rural and underserved areas were being diverted to wealthy borrowers.
    • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced plans to discuss PPP oversight, likely including publicly releasing the names of PPP recipients with Senate Small Business Committee members.
  • A group of bipartisan Florida lawmakers, including Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL), Darren Soto (D-FL), Francis Rooney (R-FL) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) wrote a letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt asking him to explain whether the Interior Department has plans to release a new offshore drilling proposal and if the Interior Department would support a permanent ban on drilling off of Florida’s coast, as was reflected in the House-passed H.R. 205, the Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act of 2019.
    • As a reminder, both Florida Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL) previously voiced their opposition to drilling off Florida’s coast.
  • House Oversight and Reform Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) sent letters to 24 inspectors General requesting agency safety oversight plans for employees to return to their offices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Chairman Connolly specifically asked the federal auditors to examine agency procedures for bringing workers back to offices and cited an internal email from the Internal Revenue Service recalling certain workers it deemed “mission-critical” to its offices, effective April 27.
  • Reps. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Mike Turner (R-OH) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) wrote a letter to House Armed Services Committee leadership on Friday questioning a potential conflict of interest with respect to the FCC’s April sign-off of Ligado Networks’ 5G plans. The full letter can be found here.
    • The lawmakers point to a key allegation that FCC Chairman Pai relied on airwaves principles created by a current FCC advisory board chairman, Dennis Roberson, who has led that group while simultaneously consulting for Ligado.
  • The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing this Thursday at 4:00pm titled “Climbing Again: Stakeholder Views on Resuming Air Travel in the COVID-19 Era.” The Committee, chaired by Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS), will receive testimony from the following witnesses:
    • Kevin M. Burke, President and Chief Executive Officer, Airports Council International-North America
    • Sara Nelson, International President, Association of Flight Attendants-Communications Workers of America
    • Neema Singh Guliani, Senior Legislative Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union
    • Tori Emerson Barnes, Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Policy, U.S. Travel Association


  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revoked the emergency authorization of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for COVID-19 patients. The drugs were promoted by President Trump as potential effective measures against COVID-19 despite questions about their safety and effectiveness.
  • The Federal Reserve Board announced updates to the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility (SMCCF) to begin buying corporate bonds to support market liquidity and increase availability of credit for large employers. The announcement can be found here.
  • The Federal Reserve announced its $600B Main Street Lending Program for midsize businesses and said that banks can now register to participate. In the program, the Federal Reserve will buy 95% of a bank loan to a company with up to 15,000 employees or up to $5B in annual revenue. The program is designed to help businesses that are too large to qualify for the PPP.
    • The Federal Reserve Board also announced that they will be seeking public comments on their proposal to expand the Main Street Lending Program to nonprofit organizations and provide them access to credit. The notice can be found here.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the launch of a summer Aeronautical Information Series. The series will discuss a wide variety of topics including Data Standardization, Notices to Airmen changes and how aeronautical information impacts the drone community. To register, click here.
  • The SBA sent a note to lenders involved in the PPP to focus on borrowers in vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. Overall, nearly $130B remains in the PPP. 
  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) awarded the Ohio Department of Transportation $4.4M to complete a project that will allow companies to deploy partially automated trucks on the I-70 highway.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is reportedly planning a trip to Hawaii to meet with Chinese government officials. It is unclear what the exact impetus behind the meeting is, but China’s handling of COVID-19 and the current Phase One trade deal between the United States and China are likely to be discussed.
  • The Department of Commerce issued a new rule that would ensure United States industries’ ability to more fully contribute to standards-development activities in the telecommunications sector and to contribute to standards development bodies. The announcement can be found here.
    • The announcement specifically cites how U.S. participation and leadership in standard-setting influences the future of 5G, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, and other cutting-edge technologies.

Other News

  • The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the Title VII provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to LGBT+ workers. The decision protects LGBT+ workers from being sanctioned or fired due to their sexual orientation. The ruling was decided by a 6-3 vote, with Justices Neil Gorsuch and John Roberts joining the liberal Justices on the court (Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Breyer).
    • The United States Chamber of Commerce announced their support of the ruling.
  • Airlines for America announced that its member airlines will step up enforcement of facial covering policies for passengers. According to the statement, its member airlines will:
    • Clearly articulate its individual face covering policy in communications with customers, which may require passengers to acknowledge the specific rules during the check-in process;
    • Have crew members announce specific details regarding the carrier’s face covering policy including the consequences passengers could face for violating the policy once on board; and
    • Determine the appropriate consequences for passengers who are found to be in noncompliance of the airline’s face covering policy up to and including suspension of flying privileges on that airline.
  • More than 27,000 jobs were lost in the clean energy sector in May, an encouraging number after April saw over 400,000 jobs lost. However, the report from BW Research warned that the depletion of the federal Paycheck Protection Program could hit the sector hard, which has now shed over 620,000 jobs during the pandemic. For comparison, the oil and gas sector lost some 100,000 jobs in total so far due to the pandemic.
  • Lear Corporation, an automotive technology company based in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, will add capacity to their factories to make 500,000 face masks a week.
  • After dozens of new cases of COVID-19 were detected in Beijing over the weekend, the government took immediate steps and deployed 100,000 workers to test citizens who could have been exposed.
    • The Chinese government has authorized strict controls in order to prevent the virus from spreading, including mandating masks and closing gyms and movie theaters.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the United Kingdom and the European Union could strike a deal on their future, post-Brexit relationship in the next six weeks.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary’s Antitrust Subcommittee to face questions from the panel about the tech company’s competitive practices.
  • Norway’s public healthy body suspended a COVID-19 contact tracing app and deleted all data collected by the technology, following an order from the country’s data protection body. The data protection body cited that the app presented a “disproportionate risk to privacy given the low download rates.”

This comes amid multiple proposals in Congress on privacy issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and specific practices.

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