COVID-19 Washington Update: July 2020 #4

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Below, please find a summary of the federal government’s activities in response to COVID-19 since our last update. Please note that in light of the Congressional recess, we will only publish updates on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays this week and next.

Congress

Congressional leaders and the administration continue to suggest that bipartisan negotiations on the next round of COVID relief legislation will pick up when Members return to Washington on July 20 – with the goal of enactment before the August recess. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he hopes to unveil a proposal by the time Members return, while Democrats continue to push for Senate action on the House-passed Heroes Act.

In her weekly press conference yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to Senate Republican and White House estimates that the next COVID relief package would total approximately $1 trillion. She said $1 trillion was a “starting point” that “doesn’t come anywhere near” the need, suggesting $1 trillion is needed for state and local governments, another $1 trillion is needed for unemployment insurance and direct payments, and additional funding will be necessary for “testing, tracing, treatment, etc.”

Speaker Pelosi also addressed Senate Republicans’ calls for liability protections: “We think there is a path to talk about protecting businesses and workers and customers who come in, and that is our OSHA provision.”

On a related note, yesterday, Representatives Garret Graves (R-LA) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) introduced the Get America Back to Work Act of 2020, which would create a legal safe harbor for entities acting in good faith to prevent the spread of COVID-19. According to a statement, “The bipartisan bill protects businesses and their employees from being sued provided they took reasonable steps to comply with the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or appropriate health authorities.”

Also Thursday, during a pro forma session, the House passed by unanimous consent the Protecting Nonprofits from Catastrophic Cash Flow Strain Act, which modifies the CARES Act to ensure nonprofits receive federal assistance for unemployment payments upfront instead of being reimbursed after the fact. The bill was passed by the Senate on July 2 and is awaiting the President’s signature.

Despite the ongoing recess, the House has more than a dozen COVID-related hearings scheduled for next week:

  • A July 13 House Homeland Security Committee (Border Security, Facilitation, and Operations Subcommittee) hearing entitled, “Oversight of ICE Detention Facilities: Examining ICE Contractors Response to COVID-19”
  • A July 14 House Homeland Security Committee (Oversight, Management, and Accountability Subcommittee) hearing entitled, “Reviewing Federal and State Pandemic Supply Preparedness and Response”
  • A July 14 House Financial Services Committee (Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship and Capital Markets Subcommittee) hearing entitled, “Promoting Economic Recovery: Examining Capital Markets and Worker Protections in the COVID-19 Era”
  • A July 14 House Energy and Commerce Committee (Energy Subcommittee) hearing entitled, “Oversight of DOE During the COVID-19 Pandemic”
  • A July 14 House Foreign Affairs Committee (Europe, Eurasia, Energy and the Environment Subcommittee) hearing entitled, “The Importance of Transatlantic Cooperation During the COVID-19 Pandemic”
  • A July 14 House Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing entitled, “Sweltering in Place: COVID-19 Extreme Heat and Environmental Justice”
  • A July 15 House Budget Committee hearing entitled, “Software Update Required: COVID-19 Exposes Need for Federal Investments in Technology”
  • A July 16 House Financial Services Committee (Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee) hearing entitled, “Protecting Homeowners During the Pandemic: Oversight of Mortgage Servicers’ Implementation of the CARES Act”
  • A July 16 House Small Business Committee (Innovation and Workforce Development Subcommittee) hearing entitled, “Putting America Back to Work: The Role of Workforce Development and Small Business Rehiring”
  • A July 17 House Small Business Committee hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Small Business Administration and Department of Treasury Pandemic Programs”
  • A July 17 House Ways and Means Committee (Social Security Subcommittee) hearing entitled, “The Impact of COVID-19 on Social Security and its Beneficiaries”
  • A July 17 House Administration Committee hearing entitled, “Exploring the Feasibility and Security of Technology to Conduct Remote Voting in the House”
  • A July 17 House Science, Space, and Technology Committee (Energy Subcommittee) hearing entitled, “From Lab to Market: Accelerating our Progress toward Economic Recovery and a Clean Energy Future”

Recent Congressional Statements / Letters

Other Stakeholder Statements / Letters

Agency Activity

Department of Labor

Department of Health and Human Services

Food and Drug Administration

Department of Defense

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Department of Agriculture

Federal House Finance Administration

Federal Trade Commission

International Trade Commission

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Federal Reserve

Periodic Report: Update on Outstanding Lending Facilities Authorized by the Board under Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act, July 10, 2020

Fed Boston: How far will state tax revenues fall during the pandemic?, July 9, 2020

State / Local Activity

Given the plethora of state and local actions, we recommend MultiState’s COVID-19 Policy Tracker as a comprehensive tool to monitor the response

[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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