COVID-19 UPDATE | WEDNESDAY, JULY 1
July 1, 2020
- The Senate continued consideration of H.R. 4049, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (NDAA). As a reminder, it is not expected that consideration of the NDAA will conclude by tomorrow when the Senate departs for the July 4 recess.
- The Senate last night passed S. 4116 by unanimous consent, which extended the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other loans under the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 7(a) program through August 8. As a reminder, the authorization of funding for the PPP expired June 30. The House still has to pass the legislation.
- Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he would oppose the nomination of William Perry Pendley to be the Administrator of the Bureau of Land Management. Manchin cited past comments of Pendley’s describing the Endangered Species Act as ‘a joke.’
- In a letter to the Treasury Department, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) led a group of nine bipartisan Senators asking for an extension for off-shore wind projects that qualify for the production tax credit and investment tax credit. The letter can be found here.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that the Democrats should not end the filibuster if they take control of the Senate and White House in November. The filibuster rule is used, mostly by the minority party, as a procedural tool to delay consideration of legislation.
- Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced S. 4113, the BRIDGE Act of 2020, which would provide flexible funding to state and tribal governments to deploy “future-proof” broadband networks. A press release on the legislation can be found here and bill text can be found here.
- Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) introduced S. 4117, the Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act, which would simplify PPP loan forgiveness processes for small businesses. A press release on the legislation can be found here and bill text can be found here.
- The Senate Parliamentarian ruled that the Senator Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) resolution to withdraw the United States from the World Trade Organization (WTO) could not be voted in in the Senate unless the Senate Finance Committee discharged the resolution within a 45 day window that soon expires. The reversal by the Parliamentarian came after leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, with jurisdiction over trade, provided their analysis on the requirements for a full vote by the Senate.
- The House voted on passage of H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act today. The bill passed by way of a 233 to 188 vote, mostly along party lines.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) commented today that the Senate will not consider H.R. 2 once it passes the House. He specifically described it as a “cousin to the Green New Deal.”
- House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) wrote a letter to ten companies and an association requesting information on potential price gouging of COVID-19 tests. The companies included in the request are Oklahoma ER & Hospital, Stat Emergency Center, Resilient Health Care, Laredo Premier Health Care/LPH Health Care LLC, Gibson Diagnostic Tests, Memorial Village ER, Tulsa ER and Hospital, Dallas ER/Advance ER, Genesis Laboratory, Genesis Reference Laboratories, and the National Association of Freestanding Emergency Centers. The request includes:
- All documents that describe the company’s policies regarding billing of issuers for all items and services related to diagnostic testing for the detection of COVID-19, and for items and services related to serological testing used to detect antibodies against COVID-19;
- All documents that describe the company’s policies regarding billing of individuals, including uninsured individuals and individuals receiving out-of-network care, for all items and services related to diagnostic testing for the detection of COVID-19, and for items and services related to serological testing used to detect antibodies against COVID-19;
- All available information on how much the company charges for a diagnostic test for the detection of COVID-19, and for serological testing used to detect antibodies against COVID-19; and
- Whether the company has received complaints from consumers billed for diagnostic tests or serological tests for COVID-19 and related items and services, and copies and records of all such consumer complaints, and any documentation of action the company took in response.
- House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) announced that he will introduce a bill responding to the Boeing 737 MAX crashes after Congress’ August recess. The bill will likely include policy on safety-critical systems, reforms to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) delegation program and workforce and appropriateness of amended type certificates.
- President Trump threatened to veto the NDAA over provisions that would rename the U.S. Military bases honoring Confederate military officials. Language on renaming the facilities is in both the House and Senate NDAA bills and likely will not be removed in conference. It remains to be seen whether President Trump will follow through on his threat and veto a major, must-pass bill and whether Congress could subsequently override his veto.
- The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) entered in to force today. The deal will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and is one of the main achievements of the Administration to date.
- Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will visit the United States on July 8-9 to celebrate the new USMCA trade deal. This will mark the first face-to-face meeting between President Trump and President Lopez Obrador.
- However, tensions remain including over the Administration’s threat to potentially reimpose steel tariffs on Canada and Mexico’s enforcement of labor standards included in the USMCA.
- The Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Angel Gurria announced that any deal on digital taxation will wait until after the November 3 election in the United States.
- Department of Health and Human (HHS) Services Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir said that the current surge of COVID-19 cases is putting the testing capacity at risk of being overwhelmed.
- Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette sent a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) stating an NDAA amendment that would grant authority to members of the Nuclear Weapons Council to influence National Nuclear Security Administration funding levels would violate the Department of Energy’s (DOE) position as an equal cabinet agency. The Nuclear Weapons Council is made up of mainly DoD officials.
- A report from the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation (DOT) revealed that the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) control feature was not an “area of emphasis” during the original FAA review of the Boeing 737 MAX. Boeing had originally told the FAA that the MCAS system was an update to an already existing system, but made the system more powerful than was communicated to the FAA.
- The certification flight tests for the Boeing 737 MAX ended on Wednesday, which clears a major hurdle for ungrounding the plane. However, the FAA said there are multiple steps remaining before the jet is ungrounded.
- The United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization agreed to change the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) deal which regulates aviation emissions agreements. The change means that the baseline for calculating the CORSIA will be 2019 emissions, rather than 2020.
- The Export-Important Bank (EXIM) issued its annual competitiveness report. The report argues China utilizes two official export credit agencies, along with multiple state-owned entities, to increase economic competitiveness. The full report can be found here.
- United Kingdom (U.K.) International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said that the U.K. will maintain high animal welfare standards in any trade deal with the U.S., despite a warning from the U.S. that the deal could fall apart over meat imports.
- According to a Department of Commerce report, foreign investment in the U.S. and U.S. businesses totaled $194.7B in 2019, a 37.7% drop from 2018. The full report can be found here.
- The White House released the spring Unified Agenda yesterday showing the Administration’s regulatory plan in the near and long term. It is important to note that the Unified Agenda is non-binding and timelines often slip. However, the document can give insight into what regulation and deregulation Federal agencies are prioritizing. The Spring 2020 Unified Agenda can be found here.
- Reports indicate that the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program may not see high subscription. Some bankers are still weighing whether to participate amid concerns over unappealing terms. The central concern remains that companies who might need loans under the program most may not be approved and those who are more creditworthy could find similar, or even better terms elsewhere.
- The FAA and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) will host the first episode of their virtual Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Symposium next week on July 8 and 9.
- Federal Register Notices:
- The Department of Education issued an interim final rule with a request for comments on CARES Act Programs and equitable services to teachers and students in non-public schools. The notice can be found here.
- The United States International Trade Commission issued a notice of five-year reviews on passenger vehicle and light truck tires from China. The notice can be found here.
- The Executive Office of the President issued a Presidential Document on continuing the President’s National Council for the American Worker and the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board. The notice can be found here.
- The Executive Office of the President issued a Presidential Document on modernizing and reforming the assessment and hiring of federal job candidates. The notice can be found here.
- The Office of the United States Trade Representative issued an amendment on enforcement of U.S. World Trade Organization rights in large civil aircraft disputes. The notice can be found here.
- Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost demanded General Motors return $60M in tax incentives that the state awarded to boost the company’s plant in Lordstown, Ohio. General Motors sold the plant last year and the Ohio Tax Credit Agency found that they had not met provisions of the agreement with the state to receive the job tax credit.
The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), a trade association which represents trade association leaders, led a group of 2,000 other trade associations in a letter to House and Senate leadership asking for trade groups to receive access to the PPP. The letter also asked for lawmakers to pass the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act, which was introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). The letter can be found here.