Today’s news and developments about COVID-19 are quickly evolving.
Capitol Hill Negotiations on COVID #3, The CARES Act
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced The CARES Act only hours ago. The CARES Act is the third piece of legislation by Congress to combat the pandemic.
Details about the bill are as follows:
Negotiations on this legislation are starting in the Senate whereas negotiations on the COVID-2 bill, The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, began in the House.
In the Senate, negotiations are ongoing, and the state of play is very fluid. A potential path forward is to file cloture on a shell bill today and vote on Sunday.
If that timeline is true, the actual deal language would likely be released late tomorrow (Saturday).
Final passage would be Monday.
Once the final deal language is out, things may move faster with unanimous consent from both parties.
On the House side, at this point, the assumption is that the House will not take the Senate bill as is given the House’s opposition to several provisions being discussed. The House’s next steps are TBD until we see what is in the final deal in the Senate.
COVID #4 (likely in late April – Early May)
Believe it or not, discussions about a fourth COVID bill are underway.
Here’s what we know as of today:
- The current discussions going on around COVID-3 are focused on improving individuals’ and business’ cash flow and liquidity, but the fourth bill will likely shift the conversation toward recovery.
- The number of bills passed will depend on how prolonged and severe the epidemic becomes.
- As for what’s likely to be included in recovery packages, infrastructure seems the top candidate – Rep. DeFazio (Chair, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee) said earlier this week that his is planning on having an infrastructure bill on the floor in May as part of the stimulus.
- The Administration’s Tuesday night request for supplemental appropriations may not be included in COVID-3 bill and will likely serve as the base of any COVID-4 package.
- The Administration’s letter requested $45.8 billion more for FY20 to replenish agency accounts impacted by the COVID-19 response. The letter outlines:
- $1.3 billion increase for the CDC;
- $440 million more for the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases;
- $8.3 billion for Defense to support hospital ships, NG deployments and other activities
- $241 million for the IRS (under the assumption that it would need additional resources to administer cash grants to individuals);
- $259 million for the Interior Department — $32 million of which would go to the National Park Service for clean-up and overtime;
- $28 million for the Energy Department, most would go to “additional information technology requirements and telework support”; and
- $4 million for the EPA.
Members of Congress in Quarantine or Tested Positive
Which Members of Congress have the virus or have been impacted by the virus is a topic of speculation.
Lawmakers and press reports reveal the following:
Tested Positive (2): Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Currently Self-Quarantined (26): Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK), Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), Rep. David Price (D-NC), Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)
Completed Quarantine (2): Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC)
I hope all of these lawmakers and their families are safe and recover fully.
To date, these posts have focused on Congress and the White House. It is worth noting that Congress and Executive actions are implemented by federal agencies.
Keep these agency actions on your radar screen:
- State Department: announced a level four travel advisory applying to all international travel, instruct all Americans abroad to either return to the United States or prepare to shelter in place and not travel abroad. Advisory here.
- State Department: Suspended routine visa services in most countries. Statement here.
- Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency: During a conference call this afternoon, CISA released its guidance intended to help states, local governments and businesses determine which workers are considered essential during shelter in place orders and other restrictions on business operations. CISA made two things abundantly clear on the call: their guidance does not carry the force of law, and guidance is subject to change as they receive stakeholder feedback.
- FDA: Issued guidance relating to the manufacturing of Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer by those not currently licensed or registered with the FDA. Guidance here.
- FDA: Postponed domestic product inspections after suspending foreign inspections last week.
- Federal Reserve/FDIC/OCC: Banks who lend money to communities affected by COVID-19 will receive Community Reinvestment Act credit. Press release here.
- ICE: Announced it will stop making arrests unless they are “mission-critical” until pandemic subsides. ICE COVID-19 page here.
- DOI: Suspended entrance fees for national parks, as they “offer special outdoor experiences to recreate, embrace nature and implement some social distancing”. Press release here.