COVID-19 UPDATE | MONDAY OCT. 26 (EVENING)
October 26, 2020
The Senate is in session. The House is in recess.
- Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) commented today that even though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continue to negotiate, he does not expect any legislative action before the election on an additional COVID-19 relief package.
- As a reminder, the Senate is expected to depart Washington, D.C. tonight after confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. The House is not expected to return to session until mid-November and the Senate is expected to return the week of November 9.
- Despite the Senate adjourning until after the election, and as we have reported, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on Section 230 and related issues on Wednesday. It is expected that most Senators will participate remotely.
- Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced the Home Health Emergency Access to Telehealth (HEAT) Act (S. 4854) to provide home health agencies with reimbursements through Medicare for their telehealth services delivered during COVID-19.
- According to a press release, the bill would only apply to telehealth services used appropriately during a public health emergency and when beneficiaries consent to receiving telehealth services.
- Companion legislation in the House was introduced by Reps. Roger Marshall (R-KS), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Jodey Arrington (R-TX), and Mike Thompson (D-CA).
- The top three members vying to lead the Appropriations Committee next year have all proposed plans on how they would lead the Committee. All three prospective Chairs, which include Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), called for the restoration of earmarks.
- Rep. Kaptur indicated that in addition to focusing on the return of earmarked spending with increased transparency, she would also focus on improving committee collaboration and on member education during the appropriations processes. Rep. Kaptur also mentioned a focus on diversity and attention to the nation’s long-term fiscal health.
- Rep. DeLauro indicated that she would focus on transparency and inclusivity with respect to drafting the annual appropriations bills and that she would hold retreats for Appropriations Committee members to hear from experts on a host of issues. Rep. DeLauro’s plan can be found attached.
- Rep. Wasserman Schultz also said that she would increase the transparency of the appropriations process and that she would take a closer look at the intelligence community’s budget requests. Rep. Wasserman Schultz also proposed a plan for a spending panel on equity, diversity, and justice.
- Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) introduced the Extending Tribal Broadband Priority Act (H.R. 8665) to expand the deadline for the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Tribal Broadband application by requiring the FCC to open a new 2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Priority Window within 30 days of the bill’s enactment.
- As stated in a press release, this bill would give Native American Tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations additional time to submit applications for spectrum licenses to establish internet services in Tribal lands.
- The Senate companion bill was introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
- The U.S. filed a formal appeal against the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that established President Trump’s tariffs on over $350B of Chinese goods as a violation of global trade rules. This appeal is for the ruling in China’s first complaint, which was filed in July 2018.
- Due to the appeal, a final decision in the dispute cannot be reached unless WTO members create a reform package that removes the U.S. blockade on Appellate Body judge appointments.
- The European Union will pursue a negotiated solution with the U.S. over Boeing subsidies rather than immediately retaliating after the WTO ruled in its favor. In a statement, European Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said the E.U. was preparing retaliatory measures but that the “preferred outcome is a negotiated settlement with the U.S.”
If a negotiated solution is not reached, the European Commission will continue to finalize the process to use its retaliation rights. Several E.U. diplomats have urged the Commission to refrain from imposing tariffs until after the U.S. elections.