COVID-19 Update | Thursday, April 23
April 23, 2020
- The House passed H.R.266 – The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. The final vote was 388-5. Elevate expects the President to sign this bill as soon as possible.
- Additionally, by a party line vote of 212-182, the House approved legislation establishing a Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis as a select investigative subcommittee of the Committee on Oversight and Reform. The new select panel will have subpoena power and broad authority to probe the US Coronavirus response and will be chaired by Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC).
- With respect to the next tranche of legislation, it remains unclear whether the legislation will be another round of relief measures, an economic stimulus bill or have components of both. Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer both have indicated a desire for a large stimulus/infrastructure package in addition to providing assistance to state and local governments and other COVID-19 relief measures. The House is targeting May/early-June to bring the legislation forward. Leader Pelosi continues to indicate the bill will originate in the House.
- Senate Majority Leader McConnell indicated that Republicans would focus on confirming Judicial and other nominations when the Senate returns from the current recess. He also stated that the next bill would not be done quickly, and the Senate would have significant input. He also cited that the budgetary impacts of another bill would be strongly weighed indicating a potential end to infusions of federal spending without commiserate reductions.
- House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D-RI) called for a moratorium on most corporate mergers and acquisitions during the pandemic.
- As previously reported, the President and Secretary Mnuchin have indicated that their priorities in an upcoming package are additional relief for state and local governments, infrastructure investments for bridges, tunnels, and broadband, and tax incentives for restaurants, entertainment, sports, and payroll tax cuts.
- 16 Governors have presented reopening plans to the Coronavirus Task Force which will help refine the plans in consultation with the Governors. The plans differ based on the status of the virus in each state, but all are supported by the task force information and resources.
- The Treasury Department is considering imposing tough terms on an emergency coronavirus loan from Congress for the United States Postal Service (USPS). Steven Mnuchin, who must approve the $10 billion loan that was allocated for USPS under the Cares Act, has told senior officials at the USPS in recent weeks that he could use the loan as leverage to give the Administration influence over how much the agency charges for delivering packages and how it manages its finances.
- Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is extending the closure of its Trusted Traveler Enrollment centers until at least June 1 due to the pandemic. This move will further delay pending applications since part of the application process is an in-person interview at one of the centers.
- The US Chamber of Commerce continues to urge dozens of exemptions from the Trump Administration’s tariffs. Specifically, they asked the Administration to take a more expansive approach when determining which products qualify for tariff exclusions as opposed to its current, onerous process that requires companies to file large amounts of paperwork. The Chamber also urged the Administration to work with other countries to temporarily remove all tariffs on medical products that are being used to fight COVID-19.
- General Motors has withdrawn its request for eight different ventilator parts to be excluded from the Administration’s Section 301 tariffs on China, citing that they came to a resolution with the United States Trade Representative (USTR).
- Today, the US Census Bureau released its Data Hub resource page on Census.gov to help federal agencies, businesses, and communities make decisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Data Hub can be found here.
- The Federal Reserve has announced that it is working to expand access to its Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility (PPPLF) for additional SBA-qualified lenders as soon as possible. More information can be found here.
- Federal Register Notices
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is modifying rules for how manufacturers of light-duty vehicles calculate credits related to greenhouse gas emissions programs. The source can be found here.
- The EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) Staff Office announced its intent to convene a panel of experts drawn from the Chartered Science Advisory Board, the SAB Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee (CAAC), and the SAB Drinking Water Committee (DWC) to provide rapid advice on scientific and technical issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and opportunities for current and future EPA research activities that might enhance and inform EPA’s current and any future responses COVID-19. The notice can be found here.
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is extending the deadlines for an airport sponsor to give notice of intent to use Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Airport Improvement Program (AIP) entitlement funds and to submit a final grant application to May 4, 2020, and to June 15, 2020 respectively. The notice can be found here.
- President Trump signed an Executive Order temporarily extending deadlines for importers suffering significant financial hardship because of COVID-19 to make import tariff payments. The full order can be found here.
- 4.4 million Americans filed jobless claims last week. This increase brings the total unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic to more than 26 million people.
- A broad coalition of transit unions sent a letter to the White House requesting that the Federal Government supply transit workers with necessary protective equipment, as well as stronger guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on how to safely equip transit workers and work environments
- A preliminary study of 3,000 New York State residents found that more than 21 percent tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, meaning COVID-19 spread earlier and infected more people than what official numbers have reported.
- Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren lost her oldest brother to COVID-19 Tuesday evening.
- Public health officials, in addition to industry experts, believe that the COVID-19 pandemic will likely alter the air travel experience as profoundly as did the September 11 attacks. Reports indicate that airlines may take steps to facilitate social distancing recommendations, like proactively not selling middle seats or capping the number of passengers allowed on a plane.