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COVID-19: Federal Update (7/28)

Updated: Jul 29

Senate Introduces New Round of PPP Relief

The legislation would provide a second round of PPP loans for certain businesses that have already received a loan, setting aside an additional $190 billion in funding. Additionally, eligibility would be expanded for 501(c)(6) non-lobbying organizations that have 50 or fewer employees with a covered loan no more than $500k. Chambers of commerce and destination marketing organizations would be eligible with up to 300 employees. You can read more about the relief to chambers and business associations here.


Quick Takes

— COVID-19 RELIEF TALKS UNDERWAY AFTER SENATE GOP INTRODUCES HEALS ACT. Click here to view TRP's side-by-side of the Senate GOP HEALS Act and House Democratic HEROES Act.

—CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS PLAN SPLITS REPUBLICANS. Republican senators are bracing for major defections on the next coronavirus aid package.

— FEDS TO LIMIT WATER POLLUTION ENFORCEMENT WHERE STATES HAVE TAKEN ACTION. The federal government will not pursue civil enforcement actions in Clean Water Act (CWA) matters where states have already taken action, according to a new Justice Department memo. 

— FED EXTENDS COVID-19 LENDING FACILITIES THROUGH END OF 2020. The Federal Reserve announced a three-month extension for pandemic-related lending facilities that were scheduled to expire on or around Sept. 30.


Capitol Hill Update

— COVID-19 RELIEF TALKS UNDERWAY AFTER SENATE GOP INTRODUCES HEALS ACT. Senate Republicans, House Democrats, and the White House have begun negotiations on the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation after the Senate GOP introduced the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act yesterday. With each side characterizing the other’s opening offer proposal as a nonstarter, lawmakers will have their work cut out for them to strike a deal that can clear both chambers and earn President Trump’s signature. In particular, funding for state and local governments, unemployment insurance, direct payments, liability protections, and the overall size and scope of the next relief bill stand out as the most contentious sticking points in these talks. While White House officials have indicated that they could try and pass smaller bills to deal with pressing issues — namely addressing the enhanced unemployment insurance and moratorium on housing evictions — Democrats have rejected that approach thus far. As such, the timeline for passage of the next round of COVID-19 aid remains in flux, and could stretch past the expected start of the month-long August district work period on Friday, Aug. 7.


— SENATE PICKS UP NOMINATIONS PUSH; HOUSE OUT TO HONOR LATE REP. LEWIS. On the floor, Senators will resume consideration of pending presidential nominations until a deal on the next round of COVID-19 aid is reached. For today, the Senate will take up the nominations of Dana Wade to be an Assistant Secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and David Joseph to be a District Judge for the Western District of Louisiana. Meanwhile, House lawmakers are not in session today as they honor the late Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) while he lies in state at the U.S. Capitol. Members will resume legislative business tomorrow morning. 


Washington Insider: What We're Reading

The Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus Stimulus Plan Splits Senate Republicans ($)

Republican senators are bracing for major defections on the next coronavirus aid package as GOP lawmakers’ antipathy toward government spending runs into the turbulence of election-year politics. The stimulus debate pits the GOP’s political pragmatists against its spending hawks, with the fate of swing-state incumbents hanging in the balance: At-risk Republican senators don’t want to return to the campaign trail during the August recess empty-handed, while fiscal conservatives recoil at any plan that they see as ballooning the deficit and conditioning the public to expect broader government assistance once the pandemic is over.

The Hill: Feds to Limit Water Pollution Enforcement Where States Have Taken Action

The federal government will not pursue civil enforcement actions in Clean Water Act (CWA) matters where states have already taken action, according to a new Justice Department memo.  “Civil enforcement actions seeking penalties under the CWA will henceforth be strongly disfavored if a State has already initiated or concluded its own civil or administrative proceeding for penalties under an analogous state law arising from the same operative facts,” says the internal memo from Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark.

The Hill: Top Tech CEOs Brace for House Grilling

The CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google will testify before Congress Wednesday in what will be a crucial hearing for the future of both antitrust law and Big Tech’s relationship with Washington. It will be the first time that Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai appear for questioning together and comes as the congressional panel hosting the hearing enters the final stretch of its investigation into digital marketplace competition.

Associated Press: Barr to Condemn Rioting at Much-Anticipated House Hearing

Attorney General William Barr is defending the aggressive federal law enforcement response to civil unrest in America, saying “violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests” sparked by George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police. Barr will tell members of the House Judiciary Committee at a much-anticipated hearing on Tuesday that the violence taking place in Portland, Oregon, and other cities is disconnected from the death of Floyd, which he described as a “horrible” event that prompted a necessary national reckoning on the relationship between the Black community and law enforcement.

COVID-19 Legislative & Regulatory Trackers


NEW TODAY...

— FED EXTENDS COVID-19 LENDING FACILITIES THROUGH END OF 2020. The Federal Reserve announced a three-month extension for pandemic-related lending facilities that were scheduled to expire on or around Sept. 30.

  • The extensions apply to the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility, the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility, the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility, the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, the Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility, and the Main Street Lending Program.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS...

CDC ISSUES GUIDANCE ON REOPENING SCHOOLS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new resources and tools for school administrators, teachers, parents, guardians, and caregivers regarding school reopening efforts.

AZAR RENEWS COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar officially renewed the COVID-19 public health emergency yesterday evening. Click here to read TRP's analysis.

CMS ALLOCATES ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR NURSING HOMES. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the agency will allocate additional resources for nursing homes to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes $5 billion in funding from the Provider Relief Fund for Medicare-certified long term care facilities and state veterans’ homes, as well as a requirement that all nursing homes in states with a five percent positivity rate or greater test all nursing home staff each week.

HHS ISSUES REPORTING GUIDANCE FOR PROVIDER RELIEF FUND. HHS released initial information for the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) reporting requirements, including the timing for submissions. HHS indicated that detailed guidance and materials will be released by August 17, 2020. 

— HHS ANNOUNCES NEW NATIONAL TESTING IMPLEMENTATION FORUM. HHS announced the rollout of a new National Testing Implementation Forum. The Forum will bring together representatives from key stakeholder groups to share information and provide input to federal leaders about the virus, testing and diagnostics.

— HHS, DOD TO PROCURE PFIZER COVID-19 VACCINE. HHS and the Department of Defense (DoD) announced an agreement with Pfizer Inc. for large-scale production and nationwide delivery of 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States following the vaccine’s successful manufacture and approval.

— WAYS AND MEANS REPUBLICANS CIRCULATE TELEHEALTH DISCUSSION DRAFT. The Republicans of the House Ways & Means Committee issued a discussion draft of a bill to make permanent several of the temporary telehealth flexibilities implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to read TRP's analysis of this legislation.

— HHS OCR ISSUES GUIDANCE ON CIVIL RIGHTS PROTECTIONS DURING COVID-19. The Department of Health And Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance to ensure that recipients of federal financial assistance understand that they must comply with applicable federal civil rights laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in HHS-funded programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

— HHS ANNOUNCES DISTRIBUTION OF $10B FOR HIGHLY IMPACTED HOSPITALS. HHS announced that it would distribute $10B to hospitals in COVID-19 hotspots beginning this week. Click here to read TRP's updated provider relief fund memo.

  • This distribution, which was first announced June 8, is based on data that HHS collected from hospitals in June detailing COVID-19 admissions through June 10. In addition, the agency extended the deadline for Medicaid and CHIP providers to apply for relief funds from June 20 to August 3.

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