Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines, January 2021 # 9

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

In Washington:

  • President-elect Joe Biden unveiled the first plan to is two-part $1.9 trillion stimulus package calling on Congress to approve $415 billion in emergency spending to scale up vaccinations, testing, and other efforts to combat COVID-19. $440 billion will help communities and businesses hit the hardest by the pandemic. The ambitious plan would be the largest investment the federal government has made to address the public health efforts to combat the pandemic. The measure will more than double the money for vaccine procurement than what was passed in the December omnibus coronavirus relief bill. Biden laid out the massive "American Rescue Plan" in an address to the nation on Thursday evening, which provides spending for some of the following programs:
    • $20 billion for a national vaccination program
    • $30 billion for purchasing supplies and protective gear
    • $50 billion for a scaled-up diagnostic testing program
    • $3 billion toward the Strategic National Stockpile
    • $22 billion toward testing and tracing efforts
    • $900 billion will go toward $1,400 direct payment checks (on top of the $600 checks passed in December.)
    • $350 billion in state and localities funding, including $20 billion for tribal governments
    • Extends unemployment insurance benefits to $400 per week through September 2021
    • Extends the eviction moratorium through September 2021
    • $170 billion in pandemic relief funding for education, with $130 billion to help K-12 schools address disruptions caused by the pandemic; and $35 billion for higher education for at public colleges and universities as well as private historically Black colleges and other minority-serving institutions; $5 billion to be distributed at the discretion of governors for educational needs in their state as a result of the pandemic
    • Increases housing aid $25 billion in rental assistance plus $5 billion to cover home energy and water costs in arrears, through programs including the Low Income Home Emergency Assistance Program (LIHEAP); $5 billion in emergency assistance to help secure housing for people experiencing homelessness.
    • Extends the 15 percent Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit increase and temporarily cuts the state match
    • Provides fourteen weeks of paid leave for caregivers
    • Raises the minimum wage to $15 per hour
    • Extends and expands the child tax credit to as much as $3,600 per year for families with young children
  • Biden is expected to pass the first proposal through "regular order," which would require 60 votes to pass in the Senate. For the second, much-larger stimulus package which will focus on infrastructure, the Biden will use a procedural process known as "budget reconciliation," requiring just a majority vote.
  • Representatives Haley Stevens (R-MI) and Troy Balderson (R-OH) reintroduced the “Resilient Manufacturing Task Force Act,” H.R. 171. The bipartisan legislation will strengthen domestic supply chains and help the economy better withstand future disease outbreaks, cyber-attacks, natural disasters, and other emergencies. The bill will assist in manufacturing essential, life-saving medical equipment, personal protective equipment, ventilators, and medical devices." With the vaccine distribution campaign underway to put an end to COVID-19, we must be ready to quickly address potential interruptions in our supply chain. Future national security, public health, and other crises necessitate a resilient national economy," Stevens says.
  • The $200 drug-discount cards that President Trump promised to send to senior Medicare recipients back in September will not be sent. Officials said that the administration has ran out of time to finish planning and finalize the program with only three business days left until the inauguration.
  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Wednesday that it would re-open the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal to PPP-eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for First and Second Draw applications on Friday, January 15, at 9 am ET. The portal will fully open on Tuesday, January 19, to all participating PPP lenders to submit First and Second Draw loan applications to SBA.
  • To relieve overwhelmed hospitals, the Trump administration is urging Americans to take monoclonal antibodies if they test positive for COVID-19 are high-risk and over the age of 65. Operation Warp Speed has purchased billions of dollars’ worth of the therapies but little use of the therapeutics. There is limited clinical trial data on the antibodies, but early testing suggests that it will prevent some patients from having to be hospitalized. Surgeon General Jerome Adams and National Institutes of Health official Anthony Fauci have confidence in their efficacy and safety. “The benefits far outweigh the risks in our opinion,” Adams said.
  • President Donald Trump has sent an extensive rescission request to Congress asking lawmakers to consider cutting billions in funding for a global health and vaccine distribution program. Specifically, the proposal looks to cut $4 billion in funding for GAVI, a public-private partnership promoting vaccination in low-income countries. The request is mostly a symbolic package of spending cuts that Congress will assuredly reject.

In the News:

  • The COVID Tracking Project is showing the five hardest-hit states as of Jan. 13: (1) New Jersey — 227 people dead per 100K residents; (2) Massachusetts — 196; (3) Rhode Island — 188; (4) South Dakota — 186; (5) Connecticut — 182.
  • More adolescents are needed for Moderna's vaccine trial, and the shortage could potentially delay the vaccine being authorized for the age group, federal officials said.
  • Fifty-five percent of Americans surveyed in a new Credit Karma/Qualtrics survey think their financial stability depended on receiving a second check, a new Credit Karma/Qualtrics survey showed.

[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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