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

June 22, 2020


Senate Activities

  • The first procedural vote on Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-SC) policing bill will occur on Wednesday morning. The Democrats have not announced whether or not they will support allowing the bill to be debated and the Republicans have not indicated if they will allow amendments. 
  • The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, will hold a hearing tomorrow titled “Oversight of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.” The sole witness will be The Honorable Kimberly A. Reed, President and Chairman, Board of Directors, Export-Import Bank of the United States.

House Activities

  • As we reported, House Democrats released the full text of H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act. The Moving Forward Act is a broad package of bills focused on infrastructure beyond the traditional definition. It is important to note that this legislation is still largely expected to be a messaging bill rather than legislation that will be passed by both chambers of Congress. The legislation includes no provisions that would solve the large funding deficit in the Highway Trust Fund. Instead, the legislation would authorize a $145B transfer from the general fund, more than all the general fund transfers since 2008 combined. As a reminder, a press release on the bill can be found here, a section-by-section can be found here and full bill text can be found here.
    • The bill includes $500B to invest in transportation infrastructure through the INVEST in America Act.
      • As a reminder, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee marked up the INVEST in America Act last week.
    • H.R. 2 includes the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act, which funds $130B in school infrastructure to help, among other things, high-poverty schools address structural changes and upgrade childcare facilities.
    • The broader package also includes airport provisions, including an authorization of $4B annually for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) from fiscal year 2021 through fiscal year 2025 from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF). Additionally, the legislation authorizes $3B for fiscal year 2021, $3.25B for fiscal year 2022, $3.50B for fiscal year 2023, $3.75B fiscal year 2024, and $4.0B for fiscal year 2025 from the general fund.
      • The general fund grants would be distributed based on airport passenger enplanement levels, with 12% in total set-asides for cargo airports, general aviation, reliever, and nonprimary commercial service airports, and airport projects that increase climate resiliency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigate airplane noise.
      • The supplemental general fund amounts for fiscal year 2021 are to be spent on AIP-eligible projects and uses related to the effects of COVID-19 on airport operations, and for fiscal years 2022 through 2025, on AIP-eligible projects, airport terminal projects, and other airport development projects.
    • Other topline funding numbers are:
      • $100B for affordable housing infrastructure;
      • $25B for drinking water through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund;
      • $70B for clean energy;
      • $100B for high-speed broadband;
      • $30B for health care infrastructure; and
      • $25B for the United States Postal Service, including funding for additional processing equipment and a zero emissions Postal Service vehicle fleet.
    • The bill also includes titles for renewable energy infrastructure and expansion of community investment through revitalizing the tax code.
  • The House Armed Services Subcommittees on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Strategic Forces advanced their Subcommittee parts of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) today. Both portions received bipartisan support.
  • The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittees on Communications and Technology and Consumer Protection and Commerce will hold a hearing titled “A Country in Crisis: How Disinformation Online is Dividing the Nation,” on Wednesday, June 24. A briefing memo can be found here and the hearing will feature testimony from:
    • Brandi Collins-Dexter, Senior Campaign Director, Color of Change
    • Hany Farid, Professor, University of California, Berkeley
    • Spencer Overton, President, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Professor of Law, George Washington University
    • Neil Fried, Former Chief Counsel for Communications and Technology, Energy and Commerce Committee, Principal, Digital Frontiers Advocacy
  • The House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics will hold a hearing tomorrow entitled “R&D to Support Healthy Air Travel in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond.” The hearing will feature testimony from:
    • Ms. Heather Krause, Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues, Government Accountability Office
    • Dr. Byron Jones P.E., Professor, Alan Levin Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering; Director, National Gas Machinery Laboratory, Kansas State University
    • Dr. Vicki Hertzberg, Professor and Director, Center for Data Science, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University


  • President Donald Trump is expected to sign an Executive Order to extend foreign-worker restrictions through the end of the year. The initial order blocked permanent residency visas and prohibited visas for guest workers. This Executive Order extends previous restrictions implemented in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • The new Executive Order extends the original ban through Dec. 30 and expands it by imposing restrictions on work visas.
    • The Executive Order reportedly includes a freeze that will apply to H-1B visas designed for high-skilled workers, particularly in the tech industry, and H-2B visas used by seasonal workers, like those in the construction and hospitality industries.
      • Others that are impacted are H-4 visas given to spouses of H-1B visa holders, L-1 visas for executives who work for large corporations, and some J-1 visas for scholars and professors.
    • In addition, the Administration has reportedly instructed staff to begin work on long-term reforms to the immigration system, including changes to the way H-1B visas are distributed.
      • Currently, H-1B visas are distributed by lottery and the new approach would allot the visas to applicants who earn the highest wages.
  • The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued their monthly Transit Safety and Oversight Spotlight newsletter. The full newsletter can be found here.
    • The newsletter featured guidelines for reopening America and the recommended actions transit employees should take to reduce the risk of COVID-19.
    • The newsletter also highlighted online safety trainings for transit employees.
    • Additionally, the newsletter featured updates on the CARES Act grants and noted that FTA has awarded 70% of the CARES Act funds.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule that limits the imports of products containing Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and certain “forever chemicals.” The rule will ban the use of long-chain PFAS chemicals that are used as coatings in items like carpeting, furniture and ski wax, unless the agency gives prior approval. The text of the rule can be found attached.
    • Nancy Beck, who is President Trump’s nominee for Chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, has come under fire for her suggestion that the EPA include a safe harbor provision in the rule allowing companies to avoid punishment for using these chemicals if they said they were unaware of the rule.
  • President Trump released his plan to assess the state of U.S. icebreaking capabilities and polar infrastructure. However, the plan is facing criticism, including from Sen. Angus King (I-ME) who argued the plan would force the United States to start over on icebreakers and undermine any progress that is underway. Additionally, Julie Gourley, a former State Department official who specialized in the Arctic, said that the plan is too expensive.
  • Today, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Board of Directors authorized publication of a final rule that mitigates the deposit insurance assessment effects of participating in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) established by the Small Business Administration and the Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility (PPPLF) and Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility (MMLF) established by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The final rule can be found here.

Other News

  • Auto manufacturers in Detroit, including Ford, Fiat-Chrysler and General Motors have said they expect to return to pre-COVID output and production levels by the end of the month.
    • This return is earlier than expected, which is seen a sign that the supply base and workforce return has gone smoother than anticipated.
    • Toyota has said their factories in Japan have returned to 90% of normal output.
  • Gilead will begin testing an inhaled version of its COVID-19 drug Remdesivir in August, which could make the drug easier to administer to a wider array of patients. Remdesivir, now given as an infusion, has been shown to shorten recovery times for people hospitalized with COVID-19.
  • Representatives of three Canadian airlines, Air Canada, Air Transat and WestJet, urged Canadian Members of Parliament to work toward restarting air travel by taking a unified approach to national quarantine requirements and developing safe travel corridors with other nations that have flattened their COVID-19 curves.
  • French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said that they were committed to reaching a deal on taxation of large tech firms, even after the United States pulled out of the negotiations.
  • The United States Chamber of Commerce released its annual scorecard of lawmakers. Only 34 House Democrats and four Democratic Senators voted with the Chamber 70% of the time, which is the cutoff for endorsements.
  • The United States accounted for 20% of the newly reported COVID-19 cases on Sunday. Cases have continued to surge, and increased over the weekend in 22 states, mainly in western and southern states.
  • The Metropolitan Transit Agency (MTA), New York City’s transit agency, said it expects to deplete Federal pandemic aid next month. MTA received nearly $4B through the CARES Act and, according to internal estimates, projects to lose $8.5B in revenue.
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