Hogan Lovells

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

In Washington:

  • President Biden will join leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7) nations this Friday for a virtual summit focused on the global response to COVID-19, the White House said Sunday. Other discussions at the summit will focus on economic recovery from the pandemic. Friday's meeting, hosted by the U.K., will be the first G-7 meeting of Biden's presidency.
  • Last week, House committees drafted and passed their portions of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that Democrats are preparing to pass through budget reconciliation. The reconciliation process will allow Democrats to pass the relief package with just a simple majority vote in the Senate, instead of the 60 votes required for most legislation. Democrats are aiming to give President Biden a relief bill by mid-March to prevent 1.4 million American workers from losing their unemployment benefits. To see a breakdown of each committee’s actions, see our analysis here.
  • Vice President Harris, speaking to Axios, charged that the Trump administration left the incoming Biden administration with "no stockpile" of coronavirus vaccines. "There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations, we were leaving it to the states and local leaders to try and figure it out," she continued, in an interview following a February 10 virtual meeting with African-American mayors Axios published today. "In many ways, we are starting from scratch on something that's been raging for almost an entire year."
  • The White House is looking to the tech industry to help with the rollout of vaccines.  Amazon is offering to help with its IT and operations expertise to assist in vaccine distribution. Airbnb is suggesting helping with its network of real estate across the country that can help create “vaccine depots” while Google can help advertise and spread the work for public health authorities.  “We are consulting with many companies, including Amazon, about specific ways they can help execute the President’s national strategy against COVID,” White House spokesperson Kevin Munoz said. “Companies with logistics and technical expertise could help Americans get vaccinated more efficiently and more equitably.”
  • On Monday a special three-month enrollment period for the federal health insurance marketplace began. Last month, President Biden ordered the special enrollment window due to the pandemic. The move allows first-time purchases as well as changes in existing coverage. Publicizing the special period will be key to its effectiveness because uninsured individuals are not automatically enrolled in any exchange plan. New enrollments in the marketplace have dropped every year since 2016, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. 
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says it will not be extending its tax-filing deadline of April 15 this year after it did so last year because of the pandemic.
  • The Senate Appropriations Committee unveiled its roster Friday, revealing the list of subcommittee assignments for those that will be crafting COVID-related government funding for the next two years.   Nine of the 12 subcommittees have new chairs, and three have new ranking members.  

In the News:

  • COVID-19 has killed 485,109 Americans as of Saturday evening, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The U.S. has had in total 27.6 million cases. But average daily new case diagnoses declined 24 percent last week compared to the prior week to 108,000 per day. Deaths fell by 3 percent. The virus still kills an average of roughly 3,000 Americans per day.
  • A new study by U.S scientists has discovered seven coronavirus variants with nearly identical mutations that have originated in the United States.  Scientists don’t know yet whether the mutations make the variants more contagious but are concerned it might be because the mutation appears in a gene that influences how the virus enters human cells..  Two of the variants have gained ground in Louisiana and Mississippi, but the variants have been spotted in numerous states.
  • WHO experts probing COVID-19’s origins in China tell CNN the virus was spreading widely in Wuhan in late 2019 far beyond the level Chinese authorities admitted at the time. By December of that year, the virus had already mutated into more than a dozen strains. Peter Ben Embarek, the WHO's lead investigator on the mission, added that the team had identified the first known case of COVID-19 in China, which he said had no link to the markets originally blamed for the virus's spread. 
  • On Monday, the World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that the health organization has granted the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine an emergency use listing, paving the way for its more widespread global rollout.  The producers will be the Serum Institute of India and AstraZeneca-SKBio of Korea.  Who has only granted emergency use listing one other time, for the BioNTech/Pfizer shot on Dec. 31.

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