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COVID-19 Update | Thursday, July 9

July 9, 2020


Both the House and Senate are in recess through July 20, however House Committees continue to meet.


  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) distanced himself from President Trump’s criticism of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for reopening schools in the fall. While Leader McConnell said that the plans will be a challenge for schools to implement, he said that it is important to back the CDC’s plans.
  • Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who introduced the Senate Republicans police reform bill, the JUSTICE Act (S. 3985), said he is working with Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) to revive the bill. Bass introduced the House’s police reform bill, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (H.R. 7120), which passed the House.
  • A group of 24 Democratic Senators sent a letter to Senate leadership asking for $32B in emergency funding for public transportation systems through the end of 2021. This would be in addition to the $25B that the sector received in the CARES Act (S.3548).
  • Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Susan Collins (R-ME) announced on Wednesday that they plan to introduce the Hotspots and Online Technology and Services Procurement for our Tribes and States (HOTSPOTS) Act, which would create a two year, $160M hotspot pilot program that would allow states, territories, and tribes to give internet-connected devices to public libraries in low-income and rural areas. A press release on the legislation can be found here.
  • Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) recently introduced S. 4178, which would establish a tax credit for workplace safety to help small businesses and nonprofits implement COVID-19 prevention measures. A press release on the legislation can be found here.
  • Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) said he will not attend the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, FL in August. Roberts became the sixth sitting Republican Senator to say they will not attend.
    • As a reminder, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have all indicated they will not attend the convention in Florida. 


  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that she believed $1T to be insufficient funding for the next COVID-19 relief package. Pelosi argued that Congress will need to approve at least double that amount amid the surge in cases.
    • As a reminder, the $1T topline for the next COVID-19 relief package is supported by the White House and Senate Majority Leader McConnell.
  • The House Appropriations Committee advanced all bills to the full committee. House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced she hopes that all work on the spending bills in the Committee will be completed by next Thursday. The full House is expected to consider the bills the week of July 20.
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) introduced the Maritime Transportation System Emergency Relief Act. The legislation would establish a comprehensive maritime emergency relief authority to enable the Maritime Administration (MARAD) to provide financial assistance to stabilize and ensure the reliable functioning of the U.S. Maritime Transportation System (MTS) in the event of a national emergency or disaster, including the current COVID-19 public health emergency. A press release on the legislation is here. The bill text is here.
  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) led a letter with 7 other House Democrats to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador asking for a detailed response on reports of labor practices in Mexico which fail to comply with the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA). The letter can be found here.
  • Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) sent a letter to the CEOs of two major American airlines criticizing them for their decision to begin filling their airplanes to capacity again amidst the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. The letter can be found here.
  • On Thursday it was announced that on July 21, executives from all five of the leading COVID-19 vaccine developers, all of whom are participating in the government’s Operation Warp Speed, will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee. A press release about the upcoming hearing can be found here.
  • House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) asked Parler CEO John Matze to testify on the state of competition in social media as part of the Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan antitrust investigation into social media. 
    • As a reminder, Parler is a new social media website that is favored by conservatives amidst free speech concerns with other social media forms.

General Congress

  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released new deficit data that showed an $863B Federal deficit last month compared to an $8B deficit in June 2019. Spending by the Small Business Administration (SBA) increased from $80M in June 2019 to $511B last month amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • According to the Department of Labor, 1.3M Americans filed for unemployment last week. The report showed a continuation in the decline of the number of Americans filing for unemployment from the previous week.
    • According to new data from the Census Bureau, 32M Americans utilized unemployment aid in the last week of June.
  • Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) Chairwoman Kimberly A. Reed met with the House Republicans’ China Task Force yesterday. Reed briefed the group on the role of EXIM and how EXIM can be used as a tool to counter China.
  • A new report from CBO argued that giving the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) an additional $20B over the next decade for collection and enforcement would add $61B to the Treasury. Additionally, the report argued that if the IRS was given an additional $40B for enforcement and collection, the Treasury would receive over $100B in additional revenue. The report can be found here.
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Steve Dickson announced that the FAA will issue a final rule on the remote identification of drones this December. The proposed rule received over 50,000 comments.
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske ordered TSA to take new precautions from COVID-19 after meeting with a whistleblower who warned about gaps in protections for both employees and travelers. The new measures include eye protection, more frequent changing of gloves and increased sanitization.
  • Despite the recent implementation of the USMCA, concerns have already risen about the prospects of the deal.
    • A coalition of business groups from the National Foreign Trade Council and other U.S. business groups sent a letter to Mexican officials expressing concerns with Mexico’s customs commitments.
    • The Alliance for Trade Enforcement sent a letter to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer highlighting Mexico’s failure to approve biotech crops for importation. Additionally, the letter said Canada has “unfair” pricing and reimbursement practices with pharmaceutical products developed by American companies. The letter can be found here.
  • USTR Lighthizer made comments Thursday afternoon in which he characterized the European Union’s (E.U.) network of bilateral free trade agreements as a catalyst that has eroded the global multilateral trade system. He compared the E.U.’s more than 70 bilateral trade agreements as an economic form of colonialism that has undermined the sorts of systems that the World Trade Organization (WTO) promotes. Lighthizer proposed getting rid of free trade agreements altogether and replace them with a robust network of multilateral or bilateral systems but also noted that he has no issue with regional trade agreements.
    • In this same online discussion, which was hosted by the London based policy institute Chatham House, USTR Lighthizer said that the U.S will soon announce sanctions on France as part of a dispute over their digital services tax. The French tax, USTR Lighthizer contended, has unfairly targeted American digital firms like Google and Facebook.
  • The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled (7-2) that the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., could obtain the President’s tax returns. In another case, the Court ruled (7-2) that Congressional investigators need to do more in order to obtain President Trump’s financial records. In both cases, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented. Both cases will be sent back to lower courts for further review, meaning it is unlikely that the President’s financial records will be released to the public before election day.
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the FCC has committed all $200M allocated through the CARES Act to help telehealth providers secure internet connectivity. In total, 539 providers received grants.
  • Federal Register Notices:
    • The Department of Education issued a notice on Equitable Services to Students and Teachers in Non-Public Schools. The notice can be found here.
    • The FAA and Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a notice of a meeting for the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee. The notice can be found here.
    • USTR issued a notice of product exclusion extensions for China’s Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property, and Innovation. The notice can be found here.

Other News

  • The U.S set a daily record for new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, with 59,400 new infections announced. This was the fifth record setting day in the last nine days.
    • New reports from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation suggest that the U.S. could reach up to 200,000 COVID-19 deaths by election day.
    • So far there have been 134,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S.
  • Nominations for the next Director General of the World Trade Organization officially closed on Thursday. There are currently 8 candidates for the position, including 3 women. The nominees are:
    • Dr. Liam Fox, United Kingdom;
    • Mr. Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri, Saudi Arabia;
    • Ms. Aminda C. Mohamed, Kenya;
    • Ms. Yoo Myung-hee, South Korea;
    • Mr. Tudor Uliansovschi, Moldova;
    • Mr. Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh, Egypt;
    • Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria;
    • Dr. Jesus Seade Kuri, Mexico
  • 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden announced a new policy plan for the U.S economy on Thursday which would entail more extensive oversight on outsourcing, investments in research and development, and would create 5M new manufacturing and innovation jobs.
  • 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “unity task force” unveiled their recommendations that called for ridding the country of carbon pollution that emanates from power plants by 2035. The task force, which is co-chaired by former Secretary of State John Kerry and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) also recommended the building of 60,000 wind turbines and that all new buildings to have net zero emissions by 2030. 
    • The unity task force also made recommendations surrounding tech-related issues. They called for stronger net neutrality protections, the establishment of guidelines for biometric surveillance, and more robust protections for gig-economy workers.
  • Rishi Sunak, the United Kingdom’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced a series of new policies aimed at boosting employment which will cost 30B pounds. The policies include a six-month 15% cut on the value-added tax for spending on hotels, restaurants and other tourism industry entities. Additionally, the United Kingdom announced that they will raise the land transaction tax threshold for new home buyers through next March. The policies are another example of nations across the world seeking innovative ways to spur economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • According to new data released by the Rhodium Group, greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S fell 18% this spring. The group’s findings also concluded that greenhouse gas emissions will likely be 6-12% below pre-COVID-19 projections for 2020. The full report can be found here.
  • Despite D.C. District Court Judge James Boasberg’s order on Monday, the operators of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) have yet to shut down the pipeline in North Dakota. The judge ordered the pipeline to be empty of all oil by August 5.
  • Two major U.S. airlines have temporarily stopped flights to Hong Kong due to newly imposed testing requirements for the crew of incoming flights.
  • Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced that Virginia had joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which is a regional carbon cap-and-trade program. Northam said that 45% of the proceeds from the program will go toward coastal resilience and community flood prevention.
  • Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives passed legislation that would block Governor Tom Wolf’s (D) authority to control carbon dioxide emissions. Additionally, the legislation would prevent Wolf from joining the RGGI without legislative approval. Wolf said that he will veto the bill.
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