Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines – COVID-19 D.C. Update – July 2020 #20

Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells

We have compiled a list of all the documents released by the Senate Republicans on their Phase 4 coronavirus plan:

  • Section-by-section summary of “American Workers, Families, and Employers Assistance Act” by Committee on Finance
  • Summary of “Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act”
  • One-pager on “Back to Work Care Grants”
  • One-pager on “Back to Work Child Care Grants”
  • Section-by-section summary of “Safely Back to School and Back to Work Act”
  • Text of the “Safeguarding America’s Frontline Employees To Offer Work Opportunities Required to Kickstart the Economy Act” or the “SAFE TO WORK Act” regarding liability protection.
  • Summary of “Additional Emergency Appropriations for Coronavirus Health Response and Agency Operations”
  • Section-by-section summary on “Safe to Work Act”
  • Section-by-section summary on “Safely Back to School and Back to Work Act”
  • Summary of “Time to Rescue United States’ Trusts Act”
  • Section-by-section summary on “Restoring Critical Supply Chains and Intellectual Property Act”
  • One-pager on “Simplifying Student Loan Repayment”
  • One-pager on “Education Freedom Scholarships”
  • One-pager on “Back to Work Child Care Grants”

In Washington

  • Negotiations between Democrats and Republicans on a deal for the next coronavirus package remain far apart. The caucuses remain divided over unemployment benefits and state and local aid while the enhanced benefits and eviction protections expire at the end of the week. Many Republicans also remain deeply divided on several of the proposals, and President Trump called the plan “sort of semi-irrelevant,” during Tuesday’s White House coronavirus press briefing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Tuesday called on negotiators to focus on core issues related to responding to the pandemic and forego irrelevant and poison pill issues that could slow down talks.
  • Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has tested positive for COVID-19. Gohmert learned the news while he was being pre-screened to board a flight with President Trump. Gohmert says he may have contracted the coronavirus from wearing a mask, even though he regularly refuses to wear a mask and has been seen often around the Capitol not wearing a mask or social distancing from staffers and colleagues. Gohmert and Attorney General William Barr were both seen walking together and talking without masks prior to yesterday’s House Judiciary hearing.
  • After being briefed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows Tuesday, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) predicted that the bill would undergo substantial changes and the cost will increase significantly. “This is not going to be the bill [negotiated last week]. The chief of staff was just talking about [how] they’re going to negotiate with Pelosi,” he told reporters Tuesday.
  • Despite persistent skepticism from Congressional leaders over a potential short-term “skinny” pandemic relief package, Secretary Mnuchin and Mark Meadows are floating precisely that possibility. Their proposed stop-gap deal would focus on continuing expanded unemployment benefits and preventing evictions.
  • Two immigration agencies facing budget deficits after struggling to collect fees amid the COVID-19 pandemic would get about US$3 billion in relief from the proposal Senate Republicans unveiled on Monday. Under the plan, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would get a US$1.2 billion loan from the Treasury Department. Customs and Border Protection, meanwhile, would receive US$1.6 billion to account for fee shortfalls. The proposal does not include aid to individuals excluded from the last round of aid payments, including, for example, U.S. citizens or tax-paying immigrants who live in “mixed-status” households with undocumented immigrants.
  • The Pentagon would receive over US$29 billion under the Senate Republicans’ coronavirus relief plan, including US$8 billion for weapons systems. The package includes funding for new fighter jets, amphibious shipbuilding, armored vehicles, and more. The bill also proposes US$11 billion to reimburse defense contractors for coronavirus-related expenses.
  • Seventy-seven percent of registered voters surveyed in a Hill-HarrisX poll trust the CDC’s COVID-19 data reporting, compared with 23 percent who trust the White House. Trust in the CDC is at 9 out of 10 Democrats and 6 out of 10 Republicans.
  • President Trump and the White House doubled down on its claims that hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as an effective COVID-19 treatment after the President received blowback from yesterday’s tweets promoting a controversial doctor trafficking conspiracy theories. Economic adviser Peter Navarro aggressively defended the drug on CNN today while suggesting that Dr. Anthony Fauci could be wrong about HCQ. While speaking with reporters today, the President defended his retweet and praised Stella Immanuel’s endorsement of HCQ despite his own health experts determining that the decades-old antimalarial does not help, and may even hurt, COVID-19 patients.
  • The Federal Open Market Committee concluded its two-day meeting Wednesday and held interest rates steady, as expected. “Following sharp declines, economic activity and employment have picked up somewhat in recent months but remain well below their levels at the beginning of the year,” the post-meeting statement said. In a move widely expected, the central bank kept its benchmark overnight lending rate anchored near zero, where it has been since 15 March in the early days of the pandemic.
  • The Federal Reserve said Tuesday it extended by three months the operation of all of its emergency lending programs that had been set to run through September to support economic activity during the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement, the Fed said that the extension of the programs, through 31 December, would “facilitate planning by potential facility participants and provide certainty that the facilities will continue to be available to help the economy recover.”
  • According to the latest MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Coronavirus Impact Poll, small businesses across the country are concerned about financial hardship due to prolonged closures (70 percent) and more than half worry about having to permanently close (58 percent). This month, more expressed concern over the lack of guidance on proper reopening procedures, up eight percentage points from late May (56 percent versus 48 percent in May).
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Robert Redfield, for the first time, admitted that the U.S. was slow in recognizing the coronavirus threat from Europe. "The introduction from Europe happened before we realized what was happening," Redfield said in an ABC News interview Tuesday. "By the time we realized (the) Europe threat and shut down travel to Europe, there was probably already two or three weeks of 60,000 people coming back every day from Europe.”

In the News

  • The Trump administration announced Tuesday it’s giving Eastman Kodak a US$765 million loan to manufacture pharmaceutical ingredients under the Defense Production Act, the first of its kind, at a pair of plants in New York and Minnesota.
  • Russian intelligence services are using a trio of English-language websites to spread disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, seeking to exploit a crisis that America is struggling to contain ahead of the presidential election in November, U.S. officials said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.
  • Kohl’s said it will be closing its doors on Thanksgiving Day this year, joining a number of other retailers including Walmart, Target, and Best Buy, that are making the same move amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Most Americans want to wait on a coronavirus vaccine until it’s been fully tested rather than rush it out, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll out this morning. More than 60 percent of voters think the U.S. should fully test any coronavirus vaccine, even if that delays the vaccine’s rollout and allows the virus to keep spreading in the meantime.
  • In another survey out today, finds that 74 percent of parents are dissatisfied with or don't know what their local government's back-to-school plan is. Only 17 percent feel prepared for virtual learning or homeschooling. Meanwhile, 52 percent of 1,100 teachers surveyed said they are worried about implementing the instructional models they've been directed to prepare for the fall, whether it be in-person classes, remote instruction, or hybrid models. Ninety-three percent of educators are worried about providing equitable instruction to all students.
  • S&P 500 companies have beaten earnings estimates at a higher pace than usual in the second quarter, Deutsche Bank analysts reported in a recent client note. Their analysis suggests businesses may have rebounded more strongly than initially thought from the COVID-19 pandemic in May and June, they argue. With 129 companies reporting, 85 percent of companies have beaten the bottom-up analyst consensus, well above the historical rate of 73 percent.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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