Create or retrieve your password by clicking here

COVID-19 Update| Monday, June 22 (AM)

June 22, 2020


Senate Activities

  • The Senate will vote on whether to proceed to S. 3985, Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-SC) JUSTICE Act on police reform this week. Democrats and Republicans in both chambers are currently working to build bipartisan support for their respective proposals. In the Senate, Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) signaled that he will agree to let the measure clear procedural hurdles in the Senate and begin debate. While Sen. Jones did state his inclination to vote to proceed with debate on the bill, he did not commit to voting for the bill on final passage.
  • On Tuesday, 6/23, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing on preparing for future pandemics. Witnesses will include:
    • Dr. William Frist, Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader
    • Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy Director for Health, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
    • Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, Executive Vice President and Chief Patient Officer, Merck & Co., Inc.
    • Governor Michael O. Leavitt, Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services
  • On Tuesday, 6/23, the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on oversight of the Export Import Bank of the United States (EXIM). EXIM Chairwoman Kimberly Reed will testify.
  • The Senate Budget Committee will conduct a hearing this week on the nomination of Derek Kan to become Deputy Director for the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). As a reminder, Kan previously served as Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy until last summer, when he left the Department of Transportation (DOT). He has served as Executive Associate Director at OMB since.
  • On Thursday, 6/25, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on oversight of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
    • The sole witness will be Mark Morgan, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner.
  • The Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Act expired on Saturday. Originally adopted in 2004, the law lengthened criminal antitrust penalties and offered companies incentives to report price-fixing.
    • Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced a bill, S. 3377, to permanently extend the law, but Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) put a hold on the measure until the Justice Department answered questions about its now-closed antitrust probe into automakers that adopted California’s fuel standards.

House Activities

  • The House is expected to vote on H.R.7120, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, this week.
  • House Democrats released bill text, a section by section summary, and a fact sheet of the broader infrastructure legislation unveiled last week. The Moving Forward Act, built around the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s (T&I) INVEST in America Act, carries a topline cost of $1.5T and, in addition to the surface transportation reauthorization provisions, includes sections on aviation, broadband, water and energy infrastructure, housing and schools.
  • As we have reported, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced that markups will begin the week of July 6 and will allow for both in-person and remote participation. The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee markup is set to take place on July 8 at 11am.
    • Chairwoman Lowey said that the times of the markups might change if the Committee can secure a second hearing room. Additionally, all bill texts are expected to be released about 24 hours before the subcommittee markups.
    • House Appropriators are expected to include more pandemic aid and police reform measures, two areas of contention for Senate appropriators, who are supposed to begin markups next week.
    • The House is expected to vote on the appropriations measures during the last two weeks in July.
  • T&I reported the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 2) out of Committee last week, which has now become a part of the broader, aforementioned infrastructure plan released by Democrats that is set for a floor vote on June 30.
    • The Senate to date has only advanced its highway title, S 2302, out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
    • As we have reported, the Administration is also expected to release its own surface transportation proposal or priorities in the near term.
      • It is unclear at this time what form the negotiations will take. If the Administration pushes for an infrastructure component to be part of the next relief measure, it will change the dynamics of the debate, particularly for Senate Republicans.
  • House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) wants former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, who stepped down on Saturday amid a public standoff with Attorney General Bill Barr, to testify before the House Intelligence Committee.
    • House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) is opening an investigation into Berman’s resignation, but does not have plans to ask him to testify as of now.
    • President Trump and Attorney General Barr indicated that they plan to nominate Jay Clayton, current Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, to replace Berman. However, Senate Judiciary Chairman Graham has indicated he will honor the “blue slip” system, which would allow either New York Senator to object to the nomination.
  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding a hearing on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, at 11 a.m. titled, “Oversight of the Trump Administration’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
    • The hearing, like many others on Capitol Hill in recent weeks, will allow for both in person and remote member attendance via video conferencing. Witnesses will include:
      • Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health
      • ADM Brett P. Giroir, M.D., Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
      • Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., Commissioner, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
      • Robert R. Redfield, M.D., Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • On Tuesday, 6/23, the House Appropriations Committee will hold a virtual Member Day hearing on Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations.


  • After a bipartisan request from Senate Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD), the Department of the Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have committed to releasing loan totals aggregated by zip code, by industry, by business type, and by various demographic categories for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans under $150,000. For loans above $150,000 the agencies will release business names, address, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes, zip codes, business type, demographic data, non-profit information, and jobs supported. Loans above $150,000 will be reported in the following ranges:
    • $150,000-350,000
    • $350,000-1M
    • $1-2M
    • $2-5M
    • $5-10M
  • On Friday, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) approved the start of the engineering phase for the $1.87B Portal North in New Jersey, a replacement span for the two-track, swing-style Portal Bridge that has become a major bottleneck on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. The Portal North is part of the Gateway Project, which has been a politically charged project in recent years. According to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, the engineering phase will include eligibility for a $766.6M Federal grant and is a major milestone for the projects in the FTA Capital Investment Grant program.
  • President Trump is expected to sign an Executive Order (EO) as early as today that would extend limits placed on foreign workers back in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The original EO expires today.
    • It is expected that the President will expand the EO that blocked most people from receiving a permanent residency visa, or green card, by including most guest workers who come to the United States for temporary and seasonal work.
    • The expansion of the EO is expected to encompass skilled workers in specialty occupations, executives, and seasonal workers who work in industries including landscaping, housekeeping, and construction. Agricultural workers and students will not be included.
    • The order is expected to have broad exemptions, including those for healthcare professionals and those entering the country for law enforcement or national security reasons.
  • The Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued their final rule on transporting bulk liquefied natural gas by rail. The rule is set to take effect 30 days after it publishes in the Federal Register.
  • Attorney General Barr said Sunday that antitrust lawsuits can help rein in major U.S. tech companies that conservatives argue censor and suppress their political viewpoints. He said that one way the issue can be addressed is through antitrust laws and challenging companies that “engage in monopolistic practices.”
    • Attorney General Barr did not mention any companies specifically by name.
    • Attorney General Barr also reiterated his support over the weekend for the U.S. government to take a stake or publicly back European Companies Nokia and Ericsson. Attorney General Barr shared his belief that these two companies are the strongest western competitors to Huawei and that the “West has to rally around these companies.”
  • On Sunday, Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), defended the work of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) amid the COVID-19 pandemic. His remarks come following a Washington Post report, which found that DHS had been told by an independent federal watchdog to investigate whistleblower allegations that TSA is not doing enough to protect both travelers and employees.

Other News

  • The world saw the largest daily increase in COVID-19 cases yet on Sunday. According to the World Health Organization, 183,000 new cases were reported on Sunday with the U.S., Brazil, and India reporting the most new infections.
  • The Supreme Court has decided not to hear a case brought by the American Institute for International Steel challenging the Section 232 tariffs imposed by President Trump in 2018. This decision effectively ends the legal challenge to these tariffs.
  • A coalition of ridesharing companies, including Uber and Lyft, in addition to several scooter companies and other micro mobility advocacy groups, wrote to Congressional leadership asking them to increase bike and scooter sharing, as well as other active transportation options, in the next surface transportation reauthorization bill.
  • The American Bus Association issued a report finding that the U.S. motorcoach industry will see an economic loss of nearly $11B due to the pandemic, a 71% decline in annual business. ABA also expected 62,800 jobs to be removed from the industry before the end of the pandemic. More information on the report can be found here.
  • Cruise lines voluntarily suspended their U.S. operations for another three months. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced that its members, which include all major companies operating out of U.S. ports, will continue the existing pause through at least September 15. As a reminder, the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) no-sail order, lasts through July 24.
  • Retail businesses across the country, including large companies like Best Buy and Macy’s, have set plans to reopen hundreds of stores by the end of June. Apple, however, who began opening stores in May, has decided to re-close stores in four states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Arizona) that have seen a recent rise in COVID-19 cases. The move shows a conservative outlook on reopening for Apple as it evaluates local COVID-19 data.
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chief Policy Office Neil Bradley confirmed that the Chamber is advocating for additional relief for state and local governments in conversations with Congressional Republicans. Bradley argued that additional relief could prevent states from implementing more permanent tax increases to replace revenue lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A Federal judge in San Francisco on Friday denied a request from Democratic state Attorneys General to block implementation of the Administration’s new Waters of the U.S. rule. The new rule is set to go into effect today.
  • AT&T plans to lobby Congress to revamp U.S. broadband policies, including for funding for programs that ensure Americans can access the internet regardless of their location or income. According to a statement citing that at least 18M people lack access to broadband internet service, and 15% of U.S. households with school-age children do not have high-speed internet at home, AT&T stated that “it is time for Congress to modernize and reform USF (Universal Service Fund) programs and establish a secure funding source for broadband connectivity for all Americans.”
  • European Union Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan is exploring the possibility of entering the race to become the next World Trade Organization Director-General. However, his entering the race is raising some concerns within the European Union about his ability to work through issues related to tariffs and digital services taxes with the United States.
  • Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the U.N.’s International Maritime Organization, warned that the safe operation of the world’s merchant fleet is at risk because of hundreds of thousands of seafarers who have been stuck on ships for months due to COVID-19. Lim commented that “this is now a real safety issue, endangering the safe operation of ships. We cannot expect seafarers to stay at sea forever.”
« »