Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines – COVID-19 D.C. Update – July 2020 #2

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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:

  • The House unanimously passed a bill to revive the $670 billion small business aid program hours after it shut down on Wednesday, extending the Paycheck Protections Program (PP) until Aug. 8. The Senate had passed the legislation Tuesday night.  The program — which still has $130 billion in funding available has been a key pillar of the coronavirus recovery effort.
  • Six of the nation’s largest medical equipment distribution companies are raising “troubling concerns” about the Trump administration’s coordination of critical supplies to COVID-19 hot spots, according to a memo outlining a key House committee’s discussions with the companies.  Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) who chairs the House Oversight Committee, submitted the memo Thursday to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus ahead of its hearing on the administration’s efforts to procure, stockpile and distribute critical supplies during the pandemic.  In the memo, Maloney wrote that as the pandemic flares anew in several states, the companies are cautioning that the supply of personal protective equipment for medical staff is not meeting demand and that prices for raw materials have increased “dramatically.  “Despite months of effort, there are still severe shortages of PPE and critical medical equipment, and the Trump administration has no coherent strategy to address these deficiencies,” Maloney wrote.
  • President Trump on Wednesday said he supports another round of direct payments to Americans – and says he wants to give out more money than Democrats have already proposed. “I do, I support it, but it has to be done properly,” Trump said when asked during a Fox Business Network interview whether he was in favor of sending another round of stimulus checks.   But it’s unclear at this point what form another round of relief will look like, as Capitol Hill remains locked in debate over what should be included in the next stimulus package.
  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Thursday the White House has no regrets about pushing states to end their lockdown measures, despite spikes in coronavirus cases in several of the first states to reopen.  Asked at a Thursday press appearance whether the White House had any regrets about encouraging speedy reopenings, Mnuchin replied, “No, absolutely not. I think we’ve had a very careful plan working with the states — this is primarily the states’ responsibility — but working with the states.”
  • New foreign investment in the U.S. plunged in 2019, according to a Commerce Department report released “Spending by foreign investors ‘to acquire, establish, or expand U.S. businesses’ totaled $194.7 billion in 2019, the Commerce Department said in a preliminary estimate. That was down 37.7 percent from $312.5 billion in 2018 and below the annual average of $333 billion for 2014–2018.

In the News:

  • Nonfarm payrolls soared by 4.8 million in June and the unemployment rate fell to 11.1 percent as the U.S. continued its reopening from the coronavirus pandemic, the Labor Department said Thursday.  Economists had been expecting a 2.9 million increase and a jobless rate of 12.4 percent. The report was released a day earlier than usual due to the July Fourth holiday.  Meanwhile, another 1.4 million workers filed for unemployment insurance the last week.
  • The U.S. set another record for new coronavirus cases just days before the July Fourth weekend — with at least 23 states pausing reopening plans to combat mounting infections.  There were 50,203 new coronavirus cases reported nationwide Wednesday, a single-day record.  At least five states — Arizona, California, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas — reported a record number of new cases Wednesday
  • The worst of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak will end by January either with a vaccine or because enough people in the country will have already been infected and have some immunity to it, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC
  • Five airlines have struck agreements with the Treasury Department for portions of $25 billion in federal loans aimed at softening the blow of the coronavirus pandemic on their businesses.  American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines have signed letters of intent for the loan terms, the Treasury Department said Thursday.
  • Apple will close 30 additional stores in the U.S. by Thursday, the company said, bringing the total number of reclosures in the United States to 77 as COVID-19 cases rapidly rise in several regions around the country.
  • McDonald’s is pausing the reopening of dine-in service in the U.S. as coronavirus cases continue to spread across states.  The company said Wednesday that it would wait three weeks before any new U.S. restaurants add dine-in service to its drive-through, takeout and delivery operations.
  • Uber is extending its mask requirement indefinitely throughout the U.S. and Canada as coronavirus cases continue to rise across several states. The company previously said that both drivers and riders are required to wear masks during trips through June. On Wednesday, the company said it’s extending that rule.

[View source.]

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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