COVID-19 Washington Update: September 2020

Kelley Drye & Warren LLP
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Below, please find a summary of recent federal government activity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congress

On Tuesday, after returning from the August recess, Senate Republicans unveiled a “targeted” COVID relief proposal – the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act (text here). A Senate floor vote is planned for Thursday. Senate Democrats are not expected to support the legislation, making passage unlikely (60 votes are required for passage).

The $500 billion proposal is a scaled-down version of the $1 trillion HEALS Act introduced by Senate Republicans in July, and follows weeks of stalled negotiations with Congressional Democrats. To help offset the cost, the new legislation repurposes approximately $350 billion in unspent CARES Act funding.

Among other things, the new targeted proposal includes:

  • $300 / week in extra, federally-funded unemployment benefits through December 27 (replacing the $600 / week supplement that expired at the end of July)

  • Emergency appropriations, including: $105 billion for schools; $16 billion for testing, contract tracing, and surveillance; $31 billion for vaccine, therapeutic and diagnostic development; $20 billion of additional farm assistance; and $15 billion in child care grants

  • A second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans for struggling small businesses

  • Liability protections for hospitals and healthcare workers, businesses, education institutions, local governments, and other nonprofits

  • Forgiveness of the $10 billion Treasury loan to the U.S. Postal Service authorized in the CARES Act

  • Additional provisions for pandemic preparation and strategic stockpiles

  • Several provisions to expand “school choice”

In a joint statement, Senate Democratic Leader Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) called the proposal “emaciated” and said it was “laden with poison pills” Democrats would never support.

Meanwhile, in comments to the press today, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said he is focused on reaching a legislative agreement to fund the government ahead of the September 30 end of the current fiscal year – and said he was uncertain about the prospects for another COVID relief bill.

COVID-19 Congressional hearings for the remainder of the week:

  • A September 10 House Foreign Affairs Committee | Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy and the Environment hearing entitled: Protecting Democracy During COVID-19 in Europe and Eurasia and the Democratic Awakening in Belarus

  • A September 10 House Financial Services Committee hearing entitled: The Need for Financial Aid to America’s States and Territories During the Pandemic: Supporting First Responders, Assisting Schools in Their Efforts to Safely Educate, and Preventing Mass Layoffs

  • A September 10 House Small Business Committee | Subcommittee on Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade, and Entrepreneurship hearing entitled: Kick Starting Entrepreneurship and Main Street Economic Recovery

  • A September 11 House Ways and Means Committee | Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures hearing entitled: Consequences of Inaction on COVID Tax Legislation

  • A September 11 House Science, Space, and Technology | Subcommittee on Energy hearing entitled: Biological research at the Department of Energy: Leveraging DOE’s unique capabilities to respond to the COVID 19 pandemic

Recent Congressional Statements / Letters

Other Stakeholder Statements / Letters

White House / Agency Activity

White House

Department of Treasury

Internal Revenue Service

Department of Labor

Department of Health and Human Services

Food and Drug Administration

National Institute of Health

Department of Homeland Security

Customs and Border Protection

Department of Defense

Department of State

Department of Agriculture

Department of Transportation

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Federal Communications Commission

Export Import Bank of the United States

Federal Reserve

Reports to Congress Pursuant to Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act in response to COVID-19

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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