Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines – COVID-19 D.C. Update – June 2020 #3

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[author: Shelley Castle]

Your guide to the latest Hill developments, news narratives, and media headlines provided by the Hogan Lovells Government Relations and Public Affairs team.

In Washington

  • Senate lawmakers are now saying they won’t pass another coronavirus relief package before the August recess. Previously, members said they were aiming to have something finalized for the 4 July recess but the Senate hasn’t even started putting together a proposal. Republican lawmakers are skeptical about passing another round of US$1,200 rebate checks and are focused on reforming the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), providing more money for state and local governments, boosting benefits for Social Security recipients and fixing other elements of COVID-19 relief bills passed earlier this year.
  • Senate Republicans have been divided on how to move forward procedurally with the House-passed Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (H.R. 7010) while also making some legislative changes.  Rather than fast-tracking the measure, Senators are expected to have a roll call vote today after modifying the bill’s language. Doing so will require the House to return next week to approve the Senate changes. Currently, the House is not scheduled to be in session until the end of June. The measure would give business owners more time and flexibility to use the loans they received under the PPP program.
  • According to Bloomberg, Congress required employers to offer two weeks of paid sick leave and 10 weeks of partially paid Family and Medical Leave Act in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Public Law 116-127). But public colleges weren’t eligible for a refundable tax credit included in the law. Colleges face a huge unfunded mandate unless Congress makes them eligible for a tax credit to cover the cost of the benefit.
  • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told POLITICO during a live video interview Wednesday that she wants to wait until most of the CARES Act money is distributed before giving more money to airlines. She said, “the need for additional cash will not come until September, October.” On the possibility of a federal mandate for airline passengers to wear face masks, she said management and labor mutually agreed passengers and flight crews should wear face masks but added that “I think it is better to be resolved between parties of mutual concerns because when the federal government gets involved, we tend to be much more heavy-handed.”

In the News

  • On Tuesday President Donald Trump tweeted that the GOP will be “forced” to find a new state to host their convention as North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) stands firm in his call for party leaders to provide him with plans for a scaled-down event amid coronavirus concerns.
  • U.S. stocks surged for a fourth straight day on Wednesday as protests and riots that gripped America over the past week showed signs of slowing and investors received better-than-expected news on the jobs front. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 400 points, or 1.55 percent, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 1.17 percent and 0.7 percent.
  • Today, Italy opens its borders to all European Union tourists. Other European countries are being less than welcoming in return, effectively blacklisting states badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, including Italy. A patchwork of agreements for the reinstatement of post-pandemic cross-border travel this summer is undermining the EU’s attempts to create an atmosphere of unity and solidarity.
  • Hospitals and other health-care providers will use a US$250 million grant from the CARES Act to provide workforce training, expand telemedicine offerings, and purchase protective gear and equipment to help fight COVID-19.
  • The Trump administration is banning Chinese passenger airlines from flying to the U.S. starting later this month, a move that comes as Beijing bans U.S. airlines from resuming flights there. The order takes effect on 16 June, but it could be moved up. It comes as Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have been pushing to return to China after pausing service because of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.
  • Companies cut another 2.76 million workers in May, a much smaller drop than feared, according to an ADP report. Job losses were especially deep in large businesses, which reported a decline of more than 1.6 million. Manufacturing took one of the biggest hits as the sector lost 719,000 workers. The reported total was well below the 8.75 million estimates from economists and could be a sign that the worst of the coronavirus-related layoffs are over.

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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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