COVID-19 Update | Monday, March 23 (AM)
March 23, 2020
- Talks went late into the night last night with Secretary Mnuchin shuttling back and forth between the Democratic and Republican Leaders. The Republicans attempted to schedule a vote at 9:15 today that was objected to by the Democrats last evening. The Senate is expected to be back in session at noon today. Once they reconvene, votes are expected to occur at noon to move forward on a COVID-19 phase 3 package. They will need bipartisan support to succeed.
- Areas of disagreement still remain, including provisions for corporations getting federal assistance, policies on stock buybacks and executive pay, and unemployment insurance and worker protections.
- It is important to note that five Republican Senators are quarantined due to COVID-19 (Senator Rand Paul has actually tested positive), meaning the Republicans currently only have a 48-47 voting majority in the Senate. The vote yesterday was 47-47.
- Negotiations continue this morning to try and get an agreement that would reach the 60 vote threshold.
- The goal is still to come to an agreement and hold a vote on final passage in the Senate today. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues still assert that they will be introducing their own bill today.
- Airlines continue to push for substantial economic relief due to the impacts of COVID-19. Grants for airlines are still being discussed in negotiations.
- In addition to the $58 billion in loans for airlines in the Senate’s bill text that was released yesterday, $1 billion in emergency grants for Amtrak was included. Also included, as previously reported, was $10 billion for airports and $20 billion for transit grants.
- The latest draft would also provide $3 billion for purchases for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
- The tech industry is pushing Congress to include aid specifically for online travel platforms, e-commerce entrepreneurs, and the gig workforce.
- The FCC and the telecom industry also have major stakes in the yet-to-be-determined economic stimulus plan, including in the debate over how much money should go toward addressing students’ digital “homework gap.”
- The Travel Technology Association continues to assert to Congress that relief for the travel industry should include online booking websites, short-term rental platforms and travel agencies.
- A Coronavirus Task Force Briefing is expected today at 5:30pm.
- The Trump administration plans to send $80 million in aid to Native American tribes and organizations to help combat the coronavirus.
- The State Department continues to face increased pressure to bring home Americans who are stuck abroad following border closures and flight cancellations due to COVID-19.
- The State Department will be starting flights out of Guatemala today with two charters scheduled. Flights out of Morocco started leaving on Friday and efforts to bring Americans home from Peru continue. Reports indicate that two flights are scheduled for today out of Lima, Peru.
- Congressional Democrats introduced a bill this morning that would eliminate fees for Americans to board repatriation flights. Congressional Democrats continue to urge the State Department to take further steps to help bring Americans home, including activating the Civil Reserve Air Fleet.
- President Trump continues to indicate his support for the cruise lines, saying yesterday during a press conference that the federal government can’t let the cruise industry fail due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- It is important to note that the current version of the Senate Republican legislation does not mention them specifically.
- The President stated “We can’t let the cruise lines go out of business. That would be massive amounts of jobs for our country.”
- Presidential Executive Order 13909 was published this morning, entitled “Prioritizing and Allocating Health and Medical Resources to Respond to the Spread of COVID-19.” That Executive Order can be found here.
- The Federal Reserve said this morning that the purchases of Treasury and mortgage securities approved last week are essentially unlimited and that it would buy $375 billion in Treasury securities and $250 billion in mortgage securities this week. US market futures were up in response as of this sending.
- A lawsuit was filed yesterday calling for the Trump Administration to release immigrant families in detainment due to risk of contracting COVID-19.
- As previous reported, General Motors (GM) will partner with Ventec Life Systems and a “private sector Coronavirus initiative” to manufacture ventilators, although it is unclear whether GM factories or employees will work on the ventilator production.
- Corporate bailouts remain an issue, with some companies being targeted as requesting to create specific programs.
- Almost a dozen Air Traffic Control facilities across the nation have been affected by personnel testing positive for COVID-19.
- Emirates has stopped nearly all passenger flights and continues to cut employee wages by as much as half due to COVID-19.
- Hawaii has decided to quarantine all arrivals to the state for 14 days.