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COVID-19 Update | Tuesday, March 17 (PM)

March 17, 2020


  • Up until Tuesday morning, the Administration was proposing payroll tax relief as a major part of an upcoming stimulus package. However, throughout the day on Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin proposed sending as many as two $1,000 checks, replacing the payroll tax relief, directly to individual Americans to help respond more quickly to economic losses as a result of COVID-19. There is a lack of clarity whether that would go to all adults or whether there would be an income cap on eligible recipients.
  • The White House continues to look at a $1 trillion stimulus package.


  • Senate Republicans continue to indicate that they are working towards a new stimulus package to help combat the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Earlier today, Secretary Mnuchin shared details on current White House initiatives at a lunch with Senate Republicans.
  • Reports indicate that Senate Republicans are considering the White House proposal to send the aid directly to Americans, which could cost $500 billion. This would be part of the package being floated by the White House.
    • Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) on Tuesday signaled that there was a “high level of interest” among Senate Republicans on this proposal.
  • Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) has a proposal similar to the cash payment proposal that is being pushed by the White House.
  • Majority Leader McConnell has stated his desire to pass the pending House bill and move quickly to phase 3. There needs to be an agreement with members of the Republican conference who may want a vote or an amendment. Leader McConnell continues to work with the relevant committees of jurisdiction to put together the Senate GOP version of a third COVID-19 relief bill.
  • Once the package is agreed to on the Republican side, McConnell will negotiate directly with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in an effort to reach the 60 vote threshold.
  • Afternoon reports indicated that Speaker Pelosi is open to combining the stimulus proposals being pushed by Democrats and the Administration, which include the targeted cash payments to Americans in need and expanded tax credits.
  • We are hearing that the Senate could take up the House-passed COVID-19 relief bill, which includes technical corrections that were passed by Unanimous Consent before it was sent to the Senate, as early as tomorrow and will move with urgency on phase 3.
  • Once phase 3 is completed, there is a substantial likelihood that both chambers of Congress will leave town for a period of time, perhaps longer than the planned two week recess.
  • Lastly, Senators Markey, Blumenthal, Whitehouse, and Baldwin are pushing for consumer and labor protections as part of any relief to airlines.

Other News

  • The U.S. Travel Association has called for $150 billion in “relief” for the travel industry, which would set up a “travel workforce stabilization fund”, offer an emergency liquidity facility for businesses in the travel industry, and make changes to Small Business Administration loan programs.
  • Chicago Midway International Airport’s air traffic control tower is shutting down temporarily after several technicians tested positive for the coronavirus, the FAA said this evening. However, Midway airport is still open and air traffic control duties are being handled by the Chicago TRACON.
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