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July 15, 2020

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


  • The Senate is not likely to schedule floor time for its version of a surface transportation reauthorization bill. The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committees have not, as of yet, crafted their titles dealing with transit, freight and motor carrier safety.
    • Therefore, it is more likely that surface transportation programs, whose authorizations expire on September 30, will be extended. As a reminder, the House passed H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, which included House Democrats’ surface transportation priorities last month and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed its title, which encompasses the highway provisions of a surface transportation reauthorization, out of committee unanimously last year.
  • Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) announced that she will lift her hold on 1,123 military promotions after Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed in writing that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was not blocked from being promoted due to his role as an impeachment witness. As a reminder, Lt. Col. Vindman has since retired from the military.


  • The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee advanced H.R. 7575, the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA), out of the committee by voice vote. Given the bipartisan support of the legislation, and based on a comment made by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) during the markup, the bill may be considered under suspension of the rules next week, meaning no amendments would be allowed on the House floor and a two-thirds majority would need to vote in favor for it to pass.
  • The House Rules Committee will meet on Friday to consider amendments to H.R. 6395, the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. To date, over 700 amendments have been filed and the legislation is likely to be considered on the House floor next week.
    • The House Rules Committee will likely choose only a select few of the 700 amendments that have been filed for consideration on the House floor.
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) led a Dear Colleague letter with Reps. Rick Larsen (D-WA), Sharice Davids (D-KS), Karen Bass (D-CA), Rodney Davis (R-IL), John Katko (R-NY) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) encouraging Congress to extend CARES Act relief to airlines. Chairman DeFazio said in the letter that the CARES Act was passed with the expectation that there would be a significant recovery in the fall in the aviation industry and that this is no longer the case. Chairman DeFazio warned that hundreds of thousands of jobs could be lost without additional relief.
  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a markup of 30 pieces of legislation, mostly related to 5G and telecommunications. Among the legislation that was marked up was H.R. 7130, the Spectrum IT Modernization Act, H.R. 451, the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act and H.R. 6624, the USA Telecommunications Act. All three of those pieces of legislation were approved, among others. A press release on the communications legislation that was approved can be found here. A press release on the health legislation that was approved can be found here. A press release on the energy legislation that was approved can be found here.
    • All markup documents, including amendments, can be found here.
  • Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) tested positive for COVID-19. Before exhibiting symptoms Friday, Rep. Griffith had attended an outdoor press conference with other Members, doctors and lawyers on reopening schools. It is unclear if other Members have been tested.
    • Additionally, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) and Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) announced during the House WRDA markup today that they were isolating due to apparent exposure to the virus.
  • The House Appropriations Committee completed its full committee markups of FY 2021 appropriations bills. Below is more information on all 12 funding bills:

General Congress

  • Gen. Joseph Dunford, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has withdrawn from consideration to be the Chairman of a panel in charge of overseeing COVID-19 relief funds. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) must agree on a joint leader. 


  • The extended tax filing deadline for 2020 is today. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has received 142.4M individual returns since filing began Jan. 27, according to the agency’s most recent statistics. That would leave roughly 13M more returns still to be filed, based on the total of 155.8M the IRS took in through the end of last year.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that that the Administration would move to place restrictions on the visas of employees of the Chinese telecom firm Huawei.
  • The Small Business Administration announced that the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance program, which could provide businesses that applied for a loan with a $10,000 advance regardless of whether the loan was ultimately approved, has run out of money. The program provided $20B in grants to businesses since the passage of the CARES Act.
  • Thomas Conway, the chair of the U.S Trade Representative’s (UTSR) Labor Advisory Committee, warned of what he views as an “unacceptable” process for the new trade agreement between the U.S and the United Kingdom. Mr. Conway, who also serves as the International President of the United Steelworkers, was not given sufficient notice before multiple teleconferences with deal negotiators, as well as insufficient review periods for key documents.
  • President Trump announced final changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. Reports indicate that the new regulations will provide certainty for project sponsors and speed up the environmental review process for U.S. projects spanning roads, bridges and highways.
    • As a reminder, the Administration initially announced changes in January that would impose strict and shortened timelines for environmental impact statements, expand the types of projects that can be excluded from NEPA reviews, and changes to how Federal agencies consider the effects of projects on greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The Court of International Trade ruled Tuesday that President Trump acted illegally two years ago when he doubled national security tariffs on steel imports from Turkey under Section 232.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ordered that hospital data on COVID-19 patients now be sent to a central HHS database instead of to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said that this is to better streamline the process and the CDC will still be involved with the data.
  • According to data provided by the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there were 7.9M airline passengers in May, which is an increase from the 3M that flew in April. However, May numbers are down 89% from 2019. The statistics can be found here.
  • Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told lawmakers Tuesday that he would deliver the newest edition of the U.S. Energy and Employment Report by the end of the year. This report provides an analysis of jobs in the energy sector. The Trump Administration had been slow to deliver this report until Congress required the Department of Energy (DOE) to do it.
  • According to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the number of days in which cities and harbors saw flooding from high tides has doubled since 2000, meaning that coastal energy infrastructure is at increased risk of flooding damage. The report can be found here.
  • Federal Register Notices:
    • The National Park Service (NPS) issued a meeting notice of the National Historic Landmarks Committee of the National Park System Advisory Board. The notice can be found here.
    • SBA issued temporary changes to the Community Advantage Pilot Program and a request for comment. The notice can be found here.
    • The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) issued a notice of product exclusion amendments on China’s acts, policies, and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation. The exclusion adds $200B worth of tariffs to different products. The notice can be found here.
    • The Office of the USTR issued a notice of product exclusion amendments on China’s acts, policies, and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation. The exclusion adds $34B worth of tariffs to different products. The notice can be found here.

Other News

  • On Tuesday, the CDC affirmed the efficacy of using face coverings to stop the spread of COVID-19. In a press release, the CDC confirmed the latest science which indicates that face coverings are an essential tool that could reduce the spread of COVID-19, especially when widely used. The press release can be found here.
  • Reports indicate potential serious flaws in data reported by the SBA regarding PPP loans. An analysis by The Washington Post suggests that many companies were shown to have retained more employees than they actually employ. Additionally, zero jobs were supported, or no jobs information was listed for over 875,000 borrowers.
  • The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) sent a letter to Senate and House leadership on Tuesday requesting $32B to $36B in additional public transit relief in the next COVID-19 relief bill. The letter can be found here.
  • Eighty aerospace industry executives urged Senate and House leadership to allocate more emergency funding to help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic in a letter on Tuesday. The letter, sent on Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) letterhead, deals largely with the defense industrial base.
  • The campaign to be the next Director General for the World Trade Organization (WTO) started today, with three of the eight candidates speaking to the WTO General Council and each holding press conferences. Mexico’s Jesus Seade Kuri, Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Egypt’s Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh presented to the WTO’s membership today in Geneva.
  • Commissioners of Travis County, Texas (which encompasses all of Austin), approved a measure that would provide tax breaks for electric car company Tesla. This move is in response to Tesla’s delay in deciding where to build its new factory.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday put a temporary stay on a Federal Judge’s order to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline, meaning that Energy Transfer will not have to drain the pipes in the next thirty days.

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