COVID-19: Federal Update (7/10)

Quick Takes

— HOUSE APPROPRIATORS CONTINUE FULL COMMITTEE MARKUPS. The spending bills for Interior-Environment and Legislative Branch are on tap for today.

— MNUCHIN: ‘CARES 2.0’ TO BEGIN WHEN SENATE RETURNS. However, it remains to be seen whether the parties can clinch a bipartisan agreement given the deep policy divides over the size and scope of the next round of relief.

— HHS, HRSA AWARD NEW FUNDING FOR HEALTH CENTERS. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $21 million to support health centers’ COVID-19 response efforts.

 Capitol Hill Update

— HOUSE APPROPRIATORS CONTINUE FULL COMMITTEE MARKUPS. Lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee will close out their week with another full committee markup of fiscal year (FY) 2021 spending bills. After clearing the lower chamber’s official 302(b) subcommittee allocations for FY 2021 and the measures for State-Foreign Operations (report), Agriculture-FDA (report), and Military Construction-VA (report) yesterday, the Committee will convene a markup of the bills for Interior-Environment (report) and Legislative Branch (report) bills today. Looking ahead to next week, appropriators are set to consider the and the Energy-Water Development and Labor-HHS-Education bills on Monday, and the Defense, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Transportation-HUD measures on Tuesday

Washington Insider: What We’re Reading

The Wall Street Journal: Supreme Court Signals Judiciary May Shape Balance of Power Between Congress and White House ($)

The Supreme Court on Thursday handed down two major rulings on the powers, privileges and immunities of the presidency that will have lasting impact on how future disputes between the White House, Congress and prosecutors are handled. In both decisions, the courts rejected arguments from President Trump’s lawyers and the Justice Department that a president has immunities and privileges that put him completely beyond the reach of authorities seeking his documents or testimony. In addition, the Supreme Court inserted the federal courts more fully in mediating disputes between Congress and the White House—putting some limits on what Congress can obtain from a president while also rejecting claims that a president can assert a sweeping privilege against turning over his records to Capitol Hill.

The Hill: 350 Facilities Skip Reporting Water Pollution Under Temporary EPA Rule

More than 350 facilities nationwide have taken advantage of a temporary Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that lets companies forgo monitoring their water pollution during the pandemic. A total of 352 facilities, including fossil fuel companies, water treatment plants, schools and even a Waffle House location, made use of the EPA’s relaxation of Clean Water Act requirements, according to a list the agency shared with The Hill. At least one company on the list recently settled with the EPA to resolve allegations of Clean Water Act violations dating back to 2016.

Associated Press: Biden Pledges New Deal-like Economic Agenda to Counter Trump

Democrat Joe Biden turned his campaign against President Donald Trump toward the economy Thursday, introducing a New Deal-like economic agenda while drawing a sharp contrast with a billionaire incumbent he said has abandoned working-class Americans amid cascading crises. The former vice president presented details of a comprehensive agenda that he touted as the most aggressive government investment in the U.S. economy since World War II. He also accused Trump of ignoring the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis while encouraging division amid a national reckoning with systemic racism.

Roll Call: House Spending Bill Barring Funds for Border Wall Advances

House appropriators approved a $115.5 billion Military Construction-VA spending bill Thursday on a 30-20 vote, with Texas Republican Will Hurd joining Democrats to advance the legislation to the floor. The rest of the panel’s Republicans opposed Democrats’ decision to add $12.5 billion in emergency spending to the annual funding bill for veterans’ health care. GOP lawmakers also objected to language that would block military construction funds from going to installations named after Confederate officers unless the names are first changed.

COVID-19: What We’re Hearing

— ‘CARES 2.0’ STATE OF PLAY. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) provided more details on the GOP priorities for the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation this week in a sign that another bill could be on the horizon toward the end of this month. Leader McConnell stated that he will be unveiling legislation in the forthcoming weeks that prioritizes health care, jobs, reopening schools and universities, and liability protections. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin noted yesterday that he expects negotiations between Senate Republicans, House Democrats, and the White House to begin in earnest when the upper chamber returns from its July 4 district work period the week of Jul. 20. However, it remains to be seen whether the parties can clinch a bipartisan agreement given the deep policy divides over the size and scope of the next round of relief. Lawmakers are mulling over several policy options for the next round of legislation, including:

  • Liability. Leader McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) are working on legislation that would limit the liabilities of health care workers, business owners, and employees from lawsuits pertaining to the COVID-19 outbreak. Leader McConnell stated that the GOP’s liability provision would insulate stakeholders from lawsuits retroactive to Dec. 2019 through 2024, unless these entities are “grossly negligent or intentionally engaged in harmful behavior. He has continuously emphasized that any future COVID-19 relief efforts must include these protections in order for the Senate to consider additional relief legislation.
  • House Democratic leadership appears open to negotiating a deal on liability protections. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) emphasized that these protections must not undermine the health and rights of workers, but indicated that the issue is open for further discussion and negotiation.
  • Health Care Priorities. Reports out of the Trump administration suggest that the White House is prioritizing action on surprise medical billing in the next round of relief legislation. It is also looking to address price transparency for pharmaceuticals, as well as an adjustment in the reimbursement rate for telemedicine.
  • During the CARES Act negotiations, Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) were actively trying to tack their surprise billing legislation onto the package. 
  • Stimulus Payments. In a recent interview, President Trump expressed openness to another round of direct economic impact payments, saying that he wants “larger numbers than the Democrats” have offered. Leader McConnell has also expressed openness for another round of stimulus payments that would be targeted toward individuals making $40,000 a year or less.
  • PPP. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application process has officially been reopened thanks to swift action by Congress. House and Senate lawmakers were able to clinch unanimous consent agreements on a bill that would reopen the application process for the roughly $134 billion remaining in the signature small business rescue program, pushing the application deadline from June 30 to August 18. lawmakers are already eyeing additional PPP reforms in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. 
  • Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) is drafting additional PPP legislation that would create new programs to expand the use of the remaining funds within the program, including a $25 billion set-aside for businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
  • Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have introduced a bill that would extend the PPP application deadline by six months and authorize new lending for businesses with fewer than 100 employees.
  • Additionally, there has been a bipartisan push in Congress to expand PPP eligibility to 501(c)6 organizations and other currently ineligible nonprofits in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. 
  • Unemployment Reform. Senate Republicans are spearheading efforts on reforming the enhanced unemployment benefits so that generous payments approved in the CARES Act don’t become an obstacle to rehiring workers.
  • A key option on the table includes enhancing a tax credit that would give employers a tax break for keeping workers on the payroll.
  • State and Local Governments. Funding for state and local governments is a key pillar of the Democrats’ next stimulus bill. While there is bipartisan agreement that more needs to be done to help stymie economic hardships for these entities, allocating additional funding has become a divisive issue within the Republican conference.
  • It appears likely that some Senate Republicans — particularly those who are up for re-election — would coalesce behind a bipartisan proposal that would provide additional funding and flexibility to address needs at the state and local level.

Budget Reform. A bipartisan group of House lawmakers penned a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) calling for provisions that address the federal debt and trust funds for Medicare and Social Security to be included in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. 

COVID-19 Legislative & Regulatory Trackers

NEW TODAY…

— HHS, HRSA AWARD NEW FUNDING FOR HEALTH CENTERS. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $21 million to support health centers’ COVID-19 response efforts.

  • This includes $17 million to support 78 Health Center Program look-alikes (LALs) with funding to expand capacity for COVID-19 testing.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS…

— TREASURY UPDATES CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUND FAQS. The Treasury Department updated its list of frequently asked questions on the state, local, and tribal Coronavirus Relief Fund.

— NIH LAUNCHES NEW COVID-19 CLINICAL TRIALS NETWORK. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched a new clinical trials network to test COVID-19 vaccines and other prevention tools.

— HRSA POSTS FACT SHEET ON PROVIDER RELIEF FUND FOR MEDICAID AND CHIP PROVIDERS. HRSA has published a new fact sheet for Medicaid and CHIP providers on the Provider Relief Fund.

— SBA, TREASURY OFFICIALLY DISCLOSE PPP RECIPIENTS. The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Treasury Department have officially disclosed the names of more than 650,000 recipients of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Click here to access the database.

— TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES NEW ‘OPERATION WARP SPEED’ INITIATIVES. HHS and Department of Defense announced two new investments into COVID-19 vaccines and treatments as a part of the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” initiative. This includes a $450 million contract with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to manufacture an investigational anti-viral antibody treatment, as well as a $1.6 billion deal with Novavax to ramp up production of a potential vaccine.

—TRP SPECIAL REPORT: THE VIABILITY OF DRUG PRICING REFORMS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. TRP’s newest Special Report examines recent legislation tackling drug pricing reform or price controls for COVID-19 therapies and vaccines, provides a state-of-play on the larger debate on the Hill and within the administration, and explores perspectives on ensuring the affordability of coronavirus-targeted products from the biopharmaceutical industry and health stakeholders.

— FDA ISSUES NEW EMERGENCY USE AUTHORIZATION FOR COMBINED COVID-19 DIAGNOSTIC TEST. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for a diagnostic test that can detect COVID-19 and multiple strains of influenza.

— FDIC, FEDERAL RESERVE TO REQUIRE COVID-RELATED ADDS TO BANK LIVING WILLS. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Federal Reserve announced new requirements for large financial institutions to provide details on how they’ve incorporated lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic into their plan for unwinding in the event of bankruptcy.

— OMB PUBLISHES SPRING UNIFIED REGULATORY AGENDA FOLLOWING PANDEMIC DELAY. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its Spring 2020 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Unified Agenda) (OMB Page, HHS Agenda) this week following a lengthy delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to read TRP’s analysis on forthcoming rules from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

— FDA RELEASES GUIDANCE ON COVID-19 VACCINE AUTHORIZATIONS. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new guidance describing its expectations for potential COVID-19 vaccines that would be necessary to meet to receive approval. The agency describes acceptable primary and secondary endpoints for clinical trials, encourages standardization across clinical trials, and sets 50 percent efficacy as a primary endpoint. Efficacy may mean either preventing infection or preventing symptoms.

  • In addition, FDA raises the possibility of using so-called “challenge trials,” or deliberately exposing human subjects to infection, if it is not possible to demonstrate effectiveness through clinical disease endpoint efficacy studies. This guidance comes as stakeholders raise concerns about whether the public will trust a vaccine that has been rapidly developed to combat COVID-19.

CMS UPDATES MEDICAID FAQS. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a document addressing COVID-related questions from states and Medicaid stakeholders. The new frequently asked questions cover a broad range of topics, including financing changes and rate adjustments impacting providers, the optional COVID-19 testing group, and coverage of COVID-19 drugs and services among others. 

— TRP SPECIAL REPORT: COVID-19 EMERGENCY DECLARATIONS AND HEALTH POLICY. TRP has published a Special Report describing how emergencies are declared, how they end, the health-related flexibilities that were enabled by the declarations, and what will happen when the emergencies expire.

— FED ISSUES NEW TERM SHEET FOR PMCCF. The Federal Reserve issued a new term sheet outlining pricing information for the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility

— HHS SECURES NEW SUPPLY OF KEY COVID-19 TREATMENT. HHS announced an agreement to secure more than 500,000 doses of the antiviral Remdesivir for U.S. hospitals from Gilead Sciences through September. 

COVID-19: Federal Update (7/8)

Quick Takes

— HOUSE WRAPS UP APPROPS SUBCOMMITTEE MARKUPS. Appropriators will meet to finish their subcommittee markups of fiscal year (FY) 2021 spending bills.

— CLASH LOOMS OVER NEXT CORONAVIRUS RELIEF BILL. Huge policy differences separate Democrats in the House from Republicans in the Senate.

— BIDEN WANTS US TO PRODUCE MORE OF ITS OWN PANDEMIC SUPPLIES. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s campaign released a plan Tuesday to reinforce domestic stockpiles.

— HRSA POSTS FACT SHEET ON PROVIDER RELIEF FUND FOR MEDICAID AND CHIP PROVIDERS. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has published a new fact sheet for Medicaid and CHIP providers on the Provider Relief Fund. 

 Capitol Hill Update

— HOUSE WRAPS UP APPROPS SUBCOMMITTEE MARKUPS. House appropriators will meet to finish their subcommittee markups of fiscal year (FY) 2021 spending bills. For today, Members will meet to consider the bills for Commerce-Science-Justice (CJS), Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD), Financial Services and General Government (FSGG), and Defense. Meanwhile, the full Appropriations Committee will meet Thursday and Friday to begin consideration of spending bills that cleared the subcommittees earlier this week, as well as the lover chamber’s official 302(b) subcommittee allocations for FY 2021. This includes the State-Foreign Operations (report), Agriculture-FDA (report), and Military Construction-VA (report) measures tomorrow, and the Interior-Environment and Legislative Branch bills on Friday

Washington Insider: What We’re Reading

The Hill: Clash Looms Over Next Coronavirus Relief Bill

Congressional leaders say there will be a fifth coronavirus relief bill approved by Congress, but how lawmakers get to the finish line is anyone’s guess. Huge policy differences separate Democrats in the House from Republicans in the Senate, and lawmakers have just weeks once they return to Washington to complete a bill before they are scheduled to leave again. Both parties have reasons to get to a deal given the intense pressure on Washington to provide relief for businesses and households amid double-digit unemployment and rising numbers of COVID-19 cases.

Associated Press: Biden Wants US to Produce More of its own Pandemic Supplies

Joe Biden is promising to shift production of medical equipment and other key pandemic-fighting products “back to U.S. soil,” creating jobs and bolstering a domestic supply chain he says has been exposed as inadequate and vulnerable by the coronavirus outbreak. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s campaign released a plan Tuesday to reinforce stockpiles of a “range of critical products on which the U.S. is dangerously dependent on foreign suppliers” in places like China and Russia. That includes medical equipment and pharmaceuticals, but also energy and grid resilience technologies, semiconductors and key electronics, as well as telecommunications infrastructure and raw materials.

The Wall Street Journal: Recession Forces Spending Cuts on States, Cities Hit by Coronavirus ($)

State and local governments from Georgia to California are cutting money for schools, universities and other services as the coronavirus-induced recession wreaks havoc on their finances. Widespread job losses and closed businesses have reduced revenue from sales and income taxes, forcing officials to make agonizing choices in budgets for the new fiscal year, which started July 1 in much of the country.

The Hill: Court Rulings Deal Setbacks to Pipelines

A flurry of activity in courtrooms and boardrooms over a two-day period this week dealt significant blows to the oil and gas pipeline industry. Once the dust settled, two things were clear: the Atlantic Coast pipeline is no longer moving forward, and the Dakota Access pipeline is on hold. The onslaught of lawsuits by environmentalists and Native American tribes against pipeline projects in recent years has proven effective in creating hurdles for an administration and industry keen on rolling back regulations. This week’s rulings mark the latest obstacles.

COVID-19: What We’re Hearing

— ‘CARES 2.0’ STATE OF PLAY. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) provided more details on the GOP priorities for the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation this week in a sign that another bill could be on the horizon toward the end of this month. Leader McConnell stated that he will be unveiling legislation in the forthcoming weeks that prioritizes health care, jobs, reopening schools and universities, and liability protections. A timeline for action on the forthcoming GOP legislation is expected to take place between Jul. 20 to Aug. 8, but it remains to be seen whether Senate Republicans, House Democrats, and the Trump administration can come to terms on an agreement. Lawmakers are mulling over several policy options for the next round of legislation, including:

  • Liability. Leader McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) are working on legislation that would limit the liabilities of health care workers, business owners, and employees from lawsuits pertaining to the COVID-19 outbreak. Leader McConnell stated that the GOP’s liability provision would insulate stakeholders from lawsuits retroactive to Dec. 2019 through 2024, unless these entities are “grossly negligent or intentionally engaged in harmful behavior. He has continuously emphasized that any future COVID-19 relief efforts must include these protections in order for the Senate to consider additional relief legislation.
  • House Democratic leadership appears open to negotiating a deal on liability protections. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) emphasized that these protections must not undermine the health and rights of workers, but indicated that the issue is open for further discussion and negotiation.
  • Surprise Billing. Reports out of the Trump administration suggest that the White House is prioritizing action on surprise medical billing in the next round of relief legislation. It is also looking to address price transparency for pharmaceuticals, as well as an adjustment in the reimbursement rate for telemedicine.
  • During the CARES Act negotiations, Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) were actively trying to tack their surprise billing legislation onto the package. 
  • Stimulus Payments. In a recent interview, President Trump expressed openness to another round of direct economic impact payments, saying that he wants “larger numbers than the Democrats” have offered. Leader McConnell has also expressed openness for another round of stimulus payments that would be targeted toward individuals making $40,000 a year or less.
  • PPP. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application process has officially been reopened thanks to swift action by Congress last week. House and Senate lawmakers were able to clinch unanimous consent agreements on a bill that that would reopen the application process for the roughly $134 billion remaining in the signature small business rescue program, pushing the application deadline from June 30 to August 18. lawmakers are already eyeing additional PPP reforms in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. 
  • Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) is drafting additional PPP legislation that would create new programs to expand the use of the remaining funds within the program, including a $25 billion set-aside for businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
  • Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have introduced a bill that would extend the PPP application deadline by six months and authorize new lending for businesses with fewer than 100 employees.
  • Additionally, there has been a bipartisan push in Congress to expand PPP eligibility to 501(c)6 organizations and other currently ineligible nonprofits in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. 
  • Unemployment Reform. Senate Republicans are spearheading efforts on reforming the enhanced unemployment benefits so that generous payments approved in the CARES Act don’t become an obstacle to rehiring workers.
  • A key option on the table includes enhancing a tax credit that would give employers a tax break for keeping workers on the payroll.
  • State and Local Governments. Funding for state and local governments is a key pillar of the Democrats’ next stimulus bill. While there is bipartisan agreement that more needs to be done to help stymie economic hardships for these entities, allocating additional funding has become a divisive issue within the Republican conference.
  • It appears likely that some Senate Republicans — particularly those who are up for re-election — would coalesce behind a bipartisan proposal that would provide additional funding and flexibility to address needs at the state and local level.

Budget Reform. A bipartisan group of House lawmakers penned a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) calling for provisions that address the federal debt and trust funds for Medicare and Social Security to be included in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. 

COVID-19 Legislative & Regulatory Trackers

NEW TODAY…

— HRSA POSTS FACT SHEET ON PROVIDER RELIEF FUND FOR MEDICAID AND CHIP PROVIDERS. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has published a new fact sheet for Medicaid and CHIP providers on the Provider Relief Fund. 


RECENT DEVELOPMENTS…

— SBA, TREASURY OFFICIALLY DISCLOSE PPP RECIPIENTS. The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Treasury Department have officially disclosed the names of more than 650,000 recipients of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Click here to access the database.

— TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES NEW ‘OPERATION WARP SPEED’ INITIATIVES. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense announced two new investments into COVID-19 vaccines and treatments as a part of the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” initiative. This includes a $450 million contract with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to manufacture an investigational anti-viral antibody treatment, as well as a $1.6 billion deal with Novavax to ramp up production of a potential vaccine.

—TRP SPECIAL REPORT: THE VIABILITY OF DRUG PRICING REFORMS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. TRP’s newest Special Report examines recent legislation tackling drug pricing reform or price controls for COVID-19 therapies and vaccines, provides a state-of-play on the larger debate on the Hill and within the administration, and explores perspectives on ensuring the affordability of coronavirus-targeted products from the biopharmaceutical industry and health stakeholders. 

— HHS TO HOLD WEBINAR ON MEDICAID/CHIP DISTRIBUTION FROM PROVIDER RELIEF FUND. HHS will hold a webinar for providers to learn more about the Medicaid and CHIP Distribution from the Provider Relief fund on July 8. Applications are due by July 20, 2020. 

— FDA ISSUES NEW EMERGENCY USE AUTHORIZATION FOR COMBINED COVID-19 DIAGNOSTIC TEST. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for a diagnostic test that can detect COVID-19 and multiple strains of influenza.

— FDIC, FEDERAL RESERVE TO REQUIRE COVID-RELATED ADDS TO BANK LIVING WILLS. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Federal Reserve announced new requirements for large financial institutions to provide details on how they’ve incorporated lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic into their plan for unwinding in the event of bankruptcy.

— OMB PUBLISHES SPRING UNIFIED REGULATORY AGENDA FOLLOWING PANDEMIC DELAY. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its Spring 2020 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Unified Agenda) (OMB Page, HHS Agenda) this week following a lengthy delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to read TRP’s analysis on forthcoming rules from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

— FDA RELEASES GUIDANCE ON COVID-19 VACCINE AUTHORIZATIONS. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new guidance describing its expectations for potential COVID-19 vaccines that would be necessary to meet to receive approval. The agency describes acceptable primary and secondary endpoints for clinical trials, encourages standardization across clinical trials, and sets 50 percent efficacy as a primary endpoint. Efficacy may mean either preventing infection or preventing symptoms.

  • In addition, FDA raises the possibility of using so-called “challenge trials,” or deliberately exposing human subjects to infection, if it is not possible to demonstrate effectiveness through clinical disease endpoint efficacy studies. This guidance comes as stakeholders raise concerns about whether the public will trust a vaccine that has been rapidly developed to combat COVID-19.

CMS UPDATES MEDICAID FAQS. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a document addressing COVID-related questions from states and Medicaid stakeholders. The new frequently asked questions cover a broad range of topics, including financing changes and rate adjustments impacting providers, the optional COVID-19 testing group, and coverage of COVID-19 drugs and services among others. 

— TRP SPECIAL REPORT: COVID-19 EMERGENCY DECLARATIONS AND HEALTH POLICY. TRP has published a Special Report describing how emergencies are declared, how they end, the health-related flexibilities that were enabled by the declarations, and what will happen when the emergencies expire.

—TREASURY UPDATES CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUND FAQS. The Treasury Department recently updated its list of frequently asked questions for the state, local, and tribal Coronavirus Relief Fund. New information includes non-federal match requirements under the Stafford Act, nonprofit eligibility, and flexibility on covering costs of public health and public safety employees.

— FED ISSUES NEW TERM SHEET FOR PMCCF. The Federal Reserve issued a new term sheet outlining pricing information for the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility

— HHS SECURES NEW SUPPLY OF KEY COVID-19 TREATMENT. HHS announced an agreement to secure more than 500,000 doses of the antiviral Remdesivir for U.S. hospitals from Gilead Sciences through September.

COVID-19: Federal Update (7/7)

Quick Takes

— HOUSE APPROPRIATORS QUEUE UP FIVE SUBCOMMITTEE MARKUPS. The spending bills for Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Legislative Branch, Energy-Water Development, and Labor-HHS-Education will be marked up today.

— MCCONNELL ETCHES OUT ‘CARES 2.0’ PROPOSAL. Leader McConnell stated that he will be unveiling legislation in the forthcoming weeks that prioritizes health care, jobs, reopening schools and universities, and liability protections.

— HOUSE DEMOCRATS INCLUDE $597 MILLION FOR POLICE REFORM IN SPENDING BILL. House Democrats included a slew of police reforms, as well as $596.7 million in funding for reform programs, in the lower chamber’s spending bill for Commerce-Justice-Science.

— SBA, TREASURY OFFICIALLY DISCLOSE PPP RECIPIENTS. Click here to access the PPP database.

—TRP SPECIAL REPORT: THE VIABILITY OF DRUG PRICING REFORMS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. Click here to read TRP’s newest drug pricing memo. 

 Capitol Hill Update

— HOUSE APPROPRIATORS QUEUE UP FIVE SUBCOMMITTEE MARKUPS. House appropriators will meet to continue their fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations work. Lawmakers will meet to consider another tranche of spending measures in their respective subcommittees, including the bills for Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Legislative Branch, Energy-Water Development, and Labor-HHS-Education. To close out the week, the Appropriations Committee will meet Thursday and Friday to begin full committee markups of bills that cleared the subcommittees earlier this week, starting with State-Foreign Operations, Agriculture-FDA, and Military Construction-VA bills on Thursday.

— MCCONNELL ETCHES OUT ‘CARES 2.0’ PROPOSAL. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) provided more details on the GOP priorities for the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation yesterday in a sign that another bill could be on the horizon toward the end of this month. Leader McConnell stated that he will be unveiling legislation in the forthcoming weeks that prioritizes health care, jobs, reopening schools and universities, and liability protections. He also expressed openness to additional aid for state and local governments, as well as another round of stimulus payments that would be targeted toward individuals making $40,000 a year or less. A timeline for action on the forthcoming GOP legislation is expected to take place between Jul. 20 to Aug. 8, but it remains to be seen whether Senate Republicans, House Democrats, and the Trump administration can come to terms on an agreement.

Washington Insider: What We’re Reading

The Hill: House Democrats Include $597 Million for Police Reform in Spending Bill

House Democrats included a slew of police reforms, as well as $596.7 million in funding for reform programs, in a proposed spending bill for the 2021 fiscal year, which begins in October. The 2021 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill includes $400 million for initiatives that would boost independent investigations of law enforcement, pattern and practice investigations that look for systemic problems in policing, community-based organizations seeking to improve law enforcement and other initiatives.

The Hill: House Rejects Trump Cuts, Proposes Boost for Environmental Agencies

The Democratic-led House Appropriations Committee on Monday proposed a funding bump for the Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), soundly rejecting cuts proposed by President Trump. The committee bill would increase funding for the EPA, Interior and related agencies by $771 million for fiscal 2021, including a $304 million increase for Interior and a $318 million increase for the EPA. 

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Customs Officials Target Suspected Forced Labor From China’s Xinjiang Region ($)

A top U.S. Customs and Border Protection official said a recent seizure of nearly 13 tons of hair from a Chinese manufacturer was part of a broader agency effort to clamp down on imports suspected of originating from forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region, where Muslims have faced mass detentions. U.S. officials halted the shipment from Lop County Meixin Hair Product Co. last week after months of investigating both the manufacturer and the region where it operates, said Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner of the agency’s Office of Trade. She said the Xinjiang region in northwestern China has become Customs and Border Protection’s most active area in the world for forced-labor investigations.

Roll Call: Issues Linger After House Armed Services’ Smooth NDAA Markup

  The House Armed Services Committee’s almost 14-hour markup of the annual defense policy bill ended with a unanimous vote to send the measure to the House floor and a standing ovation. But beneath the decorous celebration, some real policy disagreements linger. And some of them are likely to resurface when the full chamber takes up the bill later this summer. Chief among those could be the Trump administration’s aggressive response to the nationwide protests that stemmed from the May 25 killing of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.

COVID-19: What We’re Hearing

— ‘CARES 2.0’ STATE OF PLAY. Lawmakers are mulling over several policy options for the next round of legislation, including:

  • Liability. Leader McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) are working on legislation that would limit the liabilities of health care workers, business owners, and employees from lawsuits pertaining to the COVID-19 outbreak. Leader McConnell stated that the GOP’s liability provision would insulate stakeholders from lawsuits retroactive to Dec. 2019 through 2024, unless these entities are “grossly negligent or intentionally engaged in harmful behavior. He has continuously emphasized that any future COVID-19 relief efforts must include these protections in order for the Senate to consider additional relief legislation.
  • House Democratic leadership appears open to negotiating a deal on liability protections. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) emphasized that these protections must not undermine the health and rights of workers, but indicated that the issue is open for further discussion and negotiation.
  • Surprise Billing. Reports out of the Trump administration suggest that the White House is prioritizing action on surprise medical billing in the next round of relief legislation. It is also looking to address price transparency for pharmaceuticals, as well as an adjustment in the reimbursement rate for telemedicine.
  • During the CARES Act negotiations, Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) were actively trying to tack their surprise billing legislation onto the package. 
  • Stimulus Payments. In a recent interview, President Trump expressed openness to another round of direct economic impact payments, saying that he wants “larger numbers than the Democrats” have offered. While the President and Congressional Democrats largely agree on the need for another round of stimulus checks, it remains to be seen whether GOP lawmakers coalesce around this given the improving jobs numbers for the months of May and June.
  • PPP. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application process has officially been reopened thanks to swift action by Congress last week. House and Senate lawmakers were able to clinch unanimous consent agreements on a bill that that would reopen the application process for the roughly $134 billion remaining in the signature small business rescue program, pushing the application deadline from June 30 to August 18. lawmakers are already eyeing additional PPP reforms in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. 
  • Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) is drafting additional PPP legislation that would create new programs to expand the use of the remaining funds within the program, including a $25 billion set-aside for businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
  • Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have introduced a bill that would extend the PPP application deadline by six months and authorize new lending for businesses with fewer than 100 employees.
  • Additionally, there has been a bipartisan push in Congress to expand PPP eligibility to 501(c)6 organizations and other currently ineligible nonprofits in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. 
  • Unemployment Reform. Senate Republicans are spearheading efforts on reforming the enhanced unemployment benefits so that generous payments approved in the CARES Act don’t become an obstacle to rehiring workers.
  • A key option on the table includes enhancing a tax credit that would give employers a tax break for keeping workers on the payroll.
  • State and Local Governments. Funding for state and local governments is a key pillar of the Democrats’ next stimulus bill. While there is bipartisan agreement that more needs to be done to help stymie economic hardships for these entities, allocating additional funding has become a divisive issue within the Republican conference.
  • It appears likely that some Senate Republicans — particularly those who are up for re-election — would coalesce behind a bipartisan proposal that would provide additional funding and flexibility to address needs at the state and local level.

Budget Reform. A bipartisan group of House lawmakers penned a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) calling for provisions that address the federal debt and trust funds for Medicare and Social Security to be included in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. 

COVID-19 Legislative & Regulatory Trackers

NEW TODAY…

— SBA, TREASURY OFFICIALLY DISCLOSE PPP RECIPIENTS. The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Treasury Department have officially disclosed the names of more than 650,000 recipients of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Click here to access the database.

— TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES NEW ‘OPERATION WARP SPEED’ INITIATIVES. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense announced two new investments into COVID-19 vaccines and treatments as a part of the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” initiative. This includes a $450 million contract with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to manufacture an investigational anti-viral antibody treatment, as well as a $1.6 billion deal with Novavax to ramp up production of a potential vaccine.

—TRP SPECIAL REPORT: THE VIABILITY OF DRUG PRICING REFORMS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. TRP’s newest Special Report examines recent legislation tackling drug pricing reform or price controls for COVID-19 therapies and vaccines, provides a state-of-play on the larger debate on the Hill and within the administration, and explores perspectives on ensuring the affordability of coronavirus-targeted products from the biopharmaceutical industry and health stakeholders. 

— HHS TO HOLD WEBINAR ON MEDICAID/CHIP DISTRIBUTION FROM PROVIDER RELIEF FUND. HHS will hold a webinar for providers to learn more about the Medicaid and CHIP Distribution from the Provider Relief fund on July 8. Applications are due by July 20, 2020.  


RECENT DEVELOPMENTS…

— FDA ISSUES NEW EMERGENCY USE AUTHORIZATION FOR COMBINED COVID-19 DIAGNOSTIC TEST. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for a diagnostic test that can detect COVID-19 and multiple strains of influenza.

— FDIC, FEDERAL RESERVE TO REQUIRE COVID-RELATED ADDS TO BANK LIVING WILLS. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Federal Reserve announced new requirements for large financial institutions to provide details on how they’ve incorporated lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic into their plan for unwinding in the event of bankruptcy.

— OMB PUBLISHES SPRING UNIFIED REGULATORY AGENDA FOLLOWING PANDEMIC DELAY. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its Spring 2020 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Unified Agenda) (OMB Page, HHS Agenda) this week following a lengthy delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to read TRP’s analysis on forthcoming rules from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

— FDA RELEASES GUIDANCE ON COVID-19 VACCINE AUTHORIZATIONS. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new guidance describing its expectations for potential COVID-19 vaccines that would be necessary to meet to receive approval. The agency describes acceptable primary and secondary endpoints for clinical trials, encourages standardization across clinical trials, and sets 50 percent efficacy as a primary endpoint. Efficacy may mean either preventing infection or preventing symptoms.

  • In addition, FDA raises the possibility of using so-called “challenge trials,” or deliberately exposing human subjects to infection, if it is not possible to demonstrate effectiveness through clinical disease endpoint efficacy studies. This guidance comes as stakeholders raise concerns about whether the public will trust a vaccine that has been rapidly developed to combat COVID-19.

CMS UPDATES MEDICAID FAQS. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a document addressing COVID-related questions from states and Medicaid stakeholders. The new frequently asked questions cover a broad range of topics, including financing changes and rate adjustments impacting providers, the optional COVID-19 testing group, and coverage of COVID-19 drugs and services among others. 

— TRP SPECIAL REPORT: COVID-19 EMERGENCY DECLARATIONS AND HEALTH POLICY. TRP has published a Special Report describing how emergencies are declared, how they end, the health-related flexibilities that were enabled by the declarations, and what will happen when the emergencies expire.

—TREASURY UPDATES CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUND FAQS. The Treasury Department recently updated its list of frequently asked questions for the state, local, and tribal Coronavirus Relief Fund. New information includes non-federal match requirements under the Stafford Act, nonprofit eligibility, and flexibility on covering costs of public health and public safety employees.

— FED ISSUES NEW TERM SHEET FOR PMCCF. The Federal Reserve issued a new term sheet outlining pricing information for the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility

— HHS SECURES NEW SUPPLY OF KEY COVID-19 TREATMENT. HHS announced an agreement to secure more than 500,000 doses of the antiviral Remdesivir for U.S. hospitals from Gilead Sciences through September.

COVID-19: Federal Update (7/6)

Quick Takes

— HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEES BEGIN MARKUP BLITZ. Appropriators will look to mark up each of the lower chamber’s FY 2021 spending bills over the course of the next three days.

— PPP APPLICATION PROCESS OFFICIALLY REOPENED. President Trump signed a bill that would push the application deadline to mid August.

— TRUMP ADMINISTRATION MOVES AHEAD WITH PLAN TO OPEN NEW PANDEMIC OFFICE AS CORONAVIRUS CRISIS INTENSIFIES. Officials are reviewing a path forward to create a new coordinator for pandemics position.

— FDA ISSUES NEW EMERGENCY USE AUTHORIZATION FOR COMBINED COVID-19 DIAGNOSTIC TEST. The test can detect COVID-19, as well as multiple flu strains. 

 Capitol Hill Update

— HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEES BEGIN MARKUP BLITZ. While there will be no votes in Congress this week, House lawmakers are set to ramp up their fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations work. Appropriations Subcommittees will begin three days’ worth of markups to consider all 12 spending bills, starting with the measures for State-Foreign Operations, Agriculture-FDA, and Military Construction-VA this evening. In the Senate, the appropriations process has been stymied due to partisan disagreements over COVID-19 and police reform amendments. A clear timetable for action has yet to emerge, but Senate appropriators are mulling over the possibility of skipping subcommittee markups altogether to expedite the process. On the floor, the upper chamber will resume legislative business on Monday, July 20, while the lower chamber will receive 72-hours’ notice of any scheduled votes.

— PPP APPLICATION PROCESS OFFICIALLY REOPENED. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application process has officially been reopened thanks to swift action by Congress last week. House and Senate lawmakers were able to clinch unanimous consent agreements on a bill that that would reopen the application process for the roughly $134 billion remaining in the signature small business rescue program, pushing the application deadline from June 30 to August 18. President Donald Trump signed the bill into law over the weekend, and lawmakers are already eyeing additional PPP reforms in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation.  

Washington Insider: What We’re Reading

CNN: Trump Administration Moves Ahead with Plan to Open New Pandemic Office as Coronavirus Crisis Intensifies

The National Security Council hosted an interagency meeting Thursday to discuss the plans for the office, which will fall under the leadership of a new position: coordinator for pandemics, a senior administration official said. The goal of Thursday’s meeting was to flush out the details and establish a proposal for President Donald Trump to approve — but the push to start a new office has drawn criticism from health experts and former officials, some of whom question whether this new unit is being located at the State Department, and not the NSC, simply to differentiate from the Obama administration effort. Officials who had worked on that pandemic response team — the directorate for global health and security and bio-defense — lamented the Trump administration’s move to gut the office, a stance the White House contests, arguing it reassigned staff and streamlined bureaucracy.

The Hill: IRS, Taxpayers Face Obstacles Ahead of July 15 Filing Deadline

The IRS and taxpayers face a number of obstacles before crossing the finish line in this year’s longer-than-usual tax filing season. The coronavirus prompted the IRS in March to extend the deadline for individuals to file their 2019 returns, and pay their 2019 taxes, from April 15 to July 15. In addition to processing returns during that time, the agency also had to implement COVID-19 relief measures passed by Congress in the spring.

The Hill: Energy Companies Cancel Atlantic Coast Pipeline

The two energy companies behind plans to build a natural gas pipeline spanning from West Virginia to North Carolina announced Sunday that the project was canceled, citing ongoing legal battles over the pipeline’s construction. In a statement, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy pointed to a recent court decision in Montana ending the Army Corps. of Engineers’ authority to issue utility line permits across wetlands and bodies of water as a sign of the continued legal troubles the project faced before completion. The project was slated to be completed in 2021, and had won a permit battle at the Supreme Court earlier this year.

The Hill: Supreme Court Upholds Reg Banning Robocalls to Cell Phones

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld a decades-old federal regulation that prohibits robocalls to cell phones, and expanded the ban to include government debt-collection calls.

COVID-19: What We’re Hearing

— ‘CARES 2.0’ STATE OF PLAY. At his weekly press conference, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated that GOP lawmakers have started to formulate priorities for the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. Leader McConnell noted that “kids, jobs, and health care” are the three primary areas of focus for Senate Republicans as they begin to formulate a package, saying that the upper chamber could take up a package between Jul. 20-Aug. 8. Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated at a House Financial Services hearing yesterday that Congress should pass economic stimulus legislation that focuses on industries that have been particularly hard hit. As the public health emergency continues to unfold, lawmakers are mulling over several policy options for the next round of legislation, including:

  • Stimulus Payments. In a recent interview, President Trump expressed openness to another round of direct economic impact payments, saying that he wants “larger numbers than the Democrats” have offered. While the President and Congressional Democrats largely agree on the need for another round of stimulus checks, it remains to be seen whether GOP lawmakers coalesce around this given the improving jobs numbers for the months of May and June.
  • PPP. Following Congressional passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, Lawmakers are eyeing further reforms to the PPP.
  • Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) is drafting additional PPP legislation that would create new programs to expand the use of the remaining funds within the program, including a $25 billion set-aside for businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
  • Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have introduced a bill that would extend the PPP application deadline by six months and authorize new lending for businesses with fewer than 100 employees.
  • Additionally, there has been a bipartisan push in Congress to expand PPP eligibility to 501(c)6 organizations and other currently ineligible nonprofits in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. 
  • Liability. Leader McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) are working on legislation that would limit the liabilities of health care workers, business owners, and employees from lawsuits pertaining to the COVID-19 outbreak. Leader McConnell emphasized that any future COVID-19 relief efforts must include these protections in order for the Senate to consider additional relief legislation.
  • House Democratic leadership appears open to negotiating a deal on liability protections. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) emphasized that these protections must not undermine the health and rights of workers, but indicated that the issue is open for further discussion and negotiation.
  • Unemployment Reform. Senate Republicans are spearheading efforts on reforming the enhanced unemployment benefits so that generous payments approved in the CARES Act don’t become an obstacle to rehiring workers.
  • A key option on the table includes enhancing a tax credit that would give employers a tax break for keeping workers on the payroll.
  • State and Local Governments. Funding for state and local governments is a key pillar of the Democrats’ next stimulus bill. While there is bipartisan agreement that more needs to be done to help stymie economic hardships for these entities, allocating additional funding has become a divisive issue within the Republican conference.
  • It appears likely that some Senate Republicans — particularly those who are up for re-election — would coalesce behind a bipartisan proposal that would provide additional funding and flexibility to address needs at the state and local level.
  • Surprise Billing. Reports out of the Trump administration suggest that the White House will push for action on surprise medical bills ahead of the next round of relief legislation.
  • During the CARES Act negotiations, Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) were actively trying to tack their surprise billing legislation onto the package. 

Budget Reform. A bipartisan group of House lawmakers penned a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) calling for provisions that address the federal debt and trust funds for Medicare and Social Security to be included in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. 

COVID-19 Legislative & Regulatory Trackers

NEW TODAY…

— FDA ISSUES NEW EMERGENCY USE AUTHORIZATION FOR COMBINED COVID-19 DIAGNOSTIC TEST. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for a diagnostic test that can detect COVID-19 and and multiple strains of influenza.

— HHS TO HOLD WEBINAR ON MEDICAID/CHIP DISTRIBUTION FROM PROVIDER RELIEF FUND. HHS will hold a webinar for providers to learn more about the Medicaid and CHIP Distribution from the Provider Relief fund on July 8. Applications are due by July 20, 2020.  


RECENT DEVELOPMENTS…

— FDIC, FEDERAL RESERVE TO REQUIRE COVID-RELATED ADDS TO BANK LIVING WILLS. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Federal Reserve announced new requirements for large financial institutions to provide details on how they’ve incorporated lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic into their plan for unwinding in the event of bankruptcy.

— OMB PUBLISHES SPRING UNIFIED REGULATORY AGENDA FOLLOWING PANDEMIC DELAY. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its Spring 2020 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Unified Agenda) (OMB Page, HHS Agenda) this week following a lengthy delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to read TRP’s analysis on forthcoming rules from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

— FDA RELEASES GUIDANCE ON COVID-19 VACCINE AUTHORIZATIONS. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new guidance describing its expectations for potential COVID-19 vaccines that would be necessary to meet to receive approval. The agency describes acceptable primary and secondary endpoints for clinical trials, encourages standardization across clinical trials, and sets 50 percent efficacy as a primary endpoint. Efficacy may mean either preventing infection or preventing symptoms.

  • In addition, FDA raises the possibility of using so-called “challenge trials,” or deliberately exposing human subjects to infection, if it is not possible to demonstrate effectiveness through clinical disease endpoint efficacy studies. This guidance comes as stakeholders raise concerns about whether the public will trust a vaccine that has been rapidly developed to combat COVID-19.

CMS UPDATES MEDICAID FAQS. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a document addressing COVID-related questions from states and Medicaid stakeholders. The new frequently asked questions cover a broad range of topics, including financing changes and rate adjustments impacting providers, the optional COVID-19 testing group, and coverage of COVID-19 drugs and services among others. 

— TRP SPECIAL REPORT: COVID-19 EMERGENCY DECLARATIONS AND HEALTH POLICY. TRP’s newest Special Report describes how emergencies are declared, how they end, the health-related flexibilities that were enabled by the declarations, and what will happen when the emergencies expire.

—TREASURY UPDATES CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUND FAQS. The Treasury Department recently updated its list of frequently asked questions for the state, local, and tribal Coronavirus Relief Fund. New information includes non-federal match requirements under the Stafford Act, nonprofit eligibility, and flexibility on covering costs of public health and public safety employees.

— FED ISSUES NEW TERM SHEET FOR PMCCF. The Federal Reserve issued a new term sheet outlining pricing information for the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility

— HHS SECURES NEW SUPPLY OF KEY COVID-19 TREATMENT. HHS announced an agreement to secure more than 500,000 doses of the antiviral Remdesivir for U.S. hospitals from Gilead Sciences through September.

COVID-19: Federal Update (7/2)

Quick Takes

— CONGRESS MOVES TO REOPEN PPP APPLICATION PROCESS. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application process is on the verge of being reopened thanks to swift action by Congress over the course of the past two days.

— U.S. JOBLESS RATE FELL TO 11.1 % IN JUNE. The jobless rate fell to 11.1% in June as the U.S. regained 4.8 million jobs, but a recent coronavirus spike could hamper the labor market’s recovery.

— TRUMP SIGNALS OPENNESS TO ANOTHER ROUND OF STIMULUS PAYMENTS. The president said he wants “larger numbers than the Democrats” have offered in an interview yesterday.

  — FDIC, FEDERAL RESERVE TO REQUIRE COVID-RELATED ADDS TO BANK LIVING WILLS. Large financial institutions will need to provide details on how they’ve incorporated lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic into their plan for unwinding in the event of bankruptcy. 

 Capitol Hill Update

— CONGRESS MOVES TO REOPEN PPP APPLICATION PROCESS. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application process is on the verge of being reopened thanks to swift action by Congress over the course of the past two days. Following passage (233-188) of the House Democrats’ $1.5T infrastructure package, the lower chamber cleared a bill that would push the application deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to Aug. 8 by voice vote yesterday. The deadline to apply for PPP funding was Jun. 30, but House and Senate lawmakers were able to clinch a unanimous consent agreements that would reopen the application process for the roughly $134 billion remaining in the signature small business rescue program. The measure is now on President Donald Trump’s desk awaiting signature.

— SENATE RESUMES NDAA DEBATE; FINAL VOTE EXPECTED AFTER JULY 4. Senators will convene today to resume consideration of the upper chamber’s FY 2021 NDAA (textsummaryreporttables). Final passage of the $740 billion measure is likely to occur when the Senate returns from its July 4 break, as Senators are continuing to deliberate a path forward on additional amendments and full consideration of the underlying bill. Meanwhile, House lawmakers on the Armed Services Committee approved the lower chamber’s version of the NDAA during their marathon markup yesterday. 

Washington Insider: What We’re Reading

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Jobless Rate Fell to 11.1% in June ($)

The jobless rate fell to 11.1% in June as the U.S. regained 4.8 million jobs, but a recent coronavirus spike could hamper the labor market’s recovery. Job growth in June followed May’s payroll gain of 2.7 million and showed Americans are slowly getting back to work. But the U.S. labor market is operating with millions fewer jobs than in February, the month before the coronavirus pandemic struck the U.S. economy.

Politico: Big Tech CEOs Agree to Testify for House Antitrust Probe

The CEOs of tech giants Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook have agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee as part of its investigation into possible anti-competitive conduct in the online marketplace, a panel spokesperson confirmed to POLITICO on Wednesday. The news sets up a must-watch hearing that will give lawmakers the chance to grill four of the technology industry’s wealthiest, most powerful moguls on allegations that their companies have stifled competition, to the detriment of their users and American society.

The Hill: New Report Underscores Racial Prejudices in Superfund Sites

A new report by the Shriver Center on Poverty Law highlights the disproportionate manner in which Superfund sites – home to the country’s most hazardous waste – affect low-income people of color in the U.S. The report, released Tuesday, underscores what the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development signaled in 2017: 70 percent of the country’s Superfund sites listed on the National Priorities List are located within a mile of government-assisted housing. As a result, over 1,000 federally assisted housing buildings, an estimated 77,000 people, live within a mile of a Superfund site.

The Hill: Economists Warn New COVID-19 Surge May Kneecap Recovery

The June jobs report may be the last piece of good news for the economy this summer as surging coronavirus cases threaten to dampen the burgeoning recovery. Two consecutive months of employment growth following the loss of 21 million jobs would be a welcome sign for the U.S. as it navigates the worst downturn since the Great Depression. But economists warn that the June report may paint a misleading picture of a fragile economy as surging COVID-19 cases cut into the ground gained since the depression started in February.

COVID-19: What We’re Hearing

— ‘CARES 2.0’ STATE OF PLAY. At his weekly press conference, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated that GOP lawmakers have started to formulate priorities for the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. Leader McConnell noted that “kids, jobs, and health care” are the three primary areas of focus for Senate Republicans as they begin to formulate a package, saying that the upper chamber could take up a package between Jul. 20-Aug. 8. Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated at a House Financial Services hearing yesterday that Congress should pass economic stimulus legislation that focuses on industries that have been particularly hard hit. As the public health emergency continues to unfold, lawmakers are mulling over several policy options for the next round of legislation, including:

  • Stimulus Payments. In an interview yesterday, President Trump expressed openness to another round of direct economic impact payments, saying that he wants “larger numbers than the Democrats” have offered. While the President and Congressional Democrats largely agree on the need for another round of stimulus checks, it remains to be seen whether GOP lawmakers coalesce around this given the improving jobs numbers for the months of May and June.
  • PPP. Following Congressional passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, Lawmakers are eyeing further reforms to the PPP.
  • Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) is drafting additional PPP legislation that would create new programs to expand the use of the remaining funds within the program, including a $25 billion set-aside for businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
  • Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have introduced a bill that would extend the PPP application deadline by six months and authorize new lending for businesses with fewer than 100 employees.
  • Additionally, there has been a bipartisan push in Congress to expand PPP eligibility to 501(c)6 organizations and other currently ineligible nonprofits in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. 
  • Liability. Leader McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) are working on legislation that would limit the liabilities of health care workers, business owners, and employees from lawsuits pertaining to the COVID-19 outbreak. Leader McConnell emphasized that any future COVID-19 relief efforts must include these protections in order for the Senate to consider additional relief legislation.
  • House Democratic leadership appears open to negotiating a deal on liability protections. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) emphasized that these protections must not undermine the health and rights of workers, but indicated that the issue is open for further discussion and negotiation.
  • Unemployment Reform. Senate Republicans are spearheading efforts on reforming the enhanced unemployment benefits so that generous payments approved in the CARES Act don’t become an obstacle to rehiring workers.
  • A key option on the table includes enhancing a tax credit that would give employers a tax break for keeping workers on the payroll.
  • State and Local Governments. Funding for state and local governments is a key pillar of the Democrats’ next stimulus bill. While there is bipartisan agreement that more needs to be done to help stymie economic hardships for these entities, allocating additional funding has become a divisive issue within the Republican conference.
  • It appears likely that some Senate Republicans — particularly those who are up for re-election — would coalesce behind a bipartisan proposal that would provide additional funding and flexibility to address needs at the state and local level.
  • Surprise Billing. Reports out of the Trump administration suggest that the White House will push for action on surprise medical bills ahead of the next round of relief legislation.
  • During the CARES Act negotiations, Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) were actively trying to tack their surprise billing legislation onto the package. 
  • Budget Reform. A bipartisan group of House lawmakers penned a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) calling for provisions that address the federal debt and trust funds for Medicare and Social Security to be included in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation.

APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend the Congressional schedule, lawmakers are adjusting their expectations for consideration of fiscal year (FY) 2021 spending bills.

  • House. Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) officially announced the House Appropriations Subcommittee markup schedule for next week.
  • Jul. 6: State & Foreign Operations, Agriculture, Military Construction-VA
  • Jul. 7: Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Legislative Branch, Energy-Water, Labor-HHS-Education
  • Jul. 8: Commerce-Science-Justice, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, Financial Services and General Government, Defense.
  • Senate. Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) is delaying the forthcoming markups ahead of the July 4 recess amid partisan disagreements over COVID-19 relief and police reform amendments that Democrats want to offer. 

When the Appropriations Committee begins its markup process, appropriators will look to skip subcommittee markups for seven out of the FY 2021 spending bills, going straight to full committee markups instead. Senators on the panel are also expected to vote on the 302(b) funding allocations for each of the 12 bills ahead of the forthcoming markups.

COVID-19 Legislative & Regulatory Trackers

NEW TODAY…

— FDIC, FEDERAL RESERVE TO REQUIRE COVID-RELATED ADDS TO BANK LIVING WILLS. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Federal Reserve announced new requirements for large financial institutions to provide details on how they’ve incorporated lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic into their plan for unwinding in the event of bankruptcy.

— OMB PUBLISHES SPRING UNIFIED REGULATORY AGENDA FOLLOWING PANDEMIC DELAY. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its Spring 2020 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Unified Agenda) (OMB Page, HHS Agenda) this week following a lengthy delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to read TRP’s analysis on forthcoming rules from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  


RECENT DEVELOPMENTS…

— FDA RELEASES GUIDANCE ON COVID-19 VACCINE AUTHORIZATIONS. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new guidance describing its expectations for potential COVID-19 vaccines that would be necessary to meet to receive approval. The agency describes acceptable primary and secondary endpoints for clinical trials, encourages standardization across clinical trials, and sets 50 percent efficacy as a primary endpoint. Efficacy may mean either preventing infection or preventing symptoms.

  • In addition, FDA raises the possibility of using so-called “challenge trials,” or deliberately exposing human subjects to infection, if it is not possible to demonstrate effectiveness through clinical disease endpoint efficacy studies. This guidance comes as stakeholders raise concerns about whether the public will trust a vaccine that has been rapidly developed to combat COVID-19.

CMS UPDATES MEDICAID FAQS. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a document addressing COVID-related questions from states and Medicaid stakeholders. The new frequently asked questions cover a broad range of topics, including financing changes and rate adjustments impacting providers, the optional COVID-19 testing group, and coverage of COVID-19 drugs and services among others. 

— TRP SPECIAL REPORT: COVID-19 EMERGENCY DECLARATIONS AND HEALTH POLICY. TRP’s newest Special Report describes how emergencies are declared, how they end, the health-related flexibilities that were enabled by the declarations, and what will happen when the emergencies expire.

—TREASURY UPDATES CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUND FAQS. The Treasury Department recently updated its list of frequently asked questions for the state, local, and tribal Coronavirus Relief Fund. New information includes non-federal match requirements under the Stafford Act, nonprofit eligibility, and flexibility on covering costs of public health and public safety employees.

— FED ISSUES NEW TERM SHEET FOR PMCCF. The Federal Reserve issued a new term sheet outlining pricing information for the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility

— HHS SECURES NEW SUPPLY OF KEY COVID-19 TREATMENT. HHS announced an agreement to secure more than 500,000 doses of the antiviral Remdesivir for U.S. hospitals from Gilead Sciences through September.

— FEDERAL RESERVE PUBLISHES STRESS TEST, COVID-19 SENSITIVITY RESULTS. The Federal Reserve published results of its stress tests for 2020 and additional sensitivity analyses that the Board conducted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

— CMS ISSUES SPECIAL TRENDS REPORT ON HEALTHCARE.GOV SIGNUPS DURING COVID-19 CMS published a special trends report outlining the number of individuals who signed up for coverage on HealthCare.gov through a special enrollment period (SEP) during the pandemic.

— CMS TO END BLANKET WAIVER REQUIRING NURSING HOMES TO SUBMIT STAFFING DATA. CMS announced plans to end the emergency blanket waiver requiring all nursing homes to resume submitting staffing data through the Payroll-Based Journal (PBJ) system by August 14, 2020.

— HHS LAUNCHES PROGRAM AIMED AT FIGHTING COVID-19 IN MINORITY, RURAL COMMUNITIES. HHS announced a new three-year, $40 million program with the Morehouse School of Medicine to deliver COVID-19 information to minority and rural communities in an effort to combat the pandemic in these areas.

— CFPB ISSUES INTERIM FINAL RULE ON LOSS MITIGATION OPTIONS FOR HOMEOWNERS. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued an interim final rule that will allow borrowers who have experienced financial hardships due to COVID-19 to delay payments even if they have only a limited amount of information on the homeowner.

— NEW FED EXAMINER GUIDANCE SEEKS TO PROMOTE FLEXIBILITY. The Federal Reserve issued new examiner guidance that seeks to promote consistency and flexibility in the supervision and examination of financial institutions that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19: Federal Update (7/1)

USMCA Goes Into Effect

Today the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement goes into effect. This is an incredibly important piece of legislation for our region. The North Texas Commission worked hard on this to ensure that more than 200,000 North Texas jobs that rely on trade with Canada and Mexico were protected. As there is still much work to be done as federal agencies implement this legislation, we will continue to make the roll-out of this agreement a top priority.

Quick Takes

— SENATE PASSES BILL EXTENDING PPP APPLICATION DEADLINE. Senators were able to clinch the unanimous consent agreement that would reopen the PPP application process.

— MCCONNELL: ‘JOBS, KIDS, HEALTH CARE’ WILL BE PRIORITIZED IN NEXT ROUND OF COVID-19 RELIEF. The Majority Leader is eyeing action on the next round of relief legislation some time toward the end of this month into early August.

— USMCA FORMALLY TAKES EFFECT BUT NORTH AMERICAN TRADE TENSIONS REMAIN. The culmination of years of negotiations won’t necessarily mean the end of trade tensions among the three North American nations.

— OMB PUBLISHES SPRING UNIFIED REGULATORY AGENDA FOLLOWING PANDEMIC DELAY. Click here to read TRP’s analysis on forthcoming rules from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

 Capitol Hill Update

— SENATE PASSES BILL EXTENDING PPP APPLICATION DEADLINE. In a surprise move late yesterday, Senators passed a bill that would push the application deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to Aug. 8. The deadline to apply for PPP funding was yesterday, but Senators were able to clinch a unanimous consent agreement that would reopen the application process for the roughly $134 billion remaining in the signature small business rescue program. The bill now heads to the House, where lawmakers will need to either take it up under suspension of the rules or try to pass by voice vote in order to place the bill on President Donald Trump’s desk. As of now, it is not clear what path the lower chamber will take prior to adjourning for the July 4 district work period.

— HOUSE WRAPS UP WORK ON $1.5T INFRASTRUCTURE PACKAGE. House lawmakers will convene for legislative business today to finish consideration of a 10-year, $1.5 trillion package of infrastructure legislation (text; summary; fact sheet) prior to adjourning for the July 4 district work period. The wide-ranging, ambitious package would allocate funding to address several key areas including surface transportation, schools and child care facilities, hospital and health care infrastructure, drinking water, housing, broadband, and green energy. It would also look to promote and expand bond financing tools to help state and local governments raise money to address their own projects. The legislation is likely to pass the lower chamber along party lines today but is considered dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled Senate after the White House issued a veto threat earlier this week. However, with the current surface transportation law set to expire on Sept. 30, officials will likely look to reach a compromise that reflects bipartisan priorities in the House and Senate surface transportation reauthorization measures.

— SENATE RESUMES NDAA AMENDMENT DEBATE. The Senate has convened this morning to resume consideration of amendments to the upper chamber’s FY 2021 NDAA (textsummaryreporttables). A timeline for final passage of the $740 billion measure remains unclear as of now, as debate on certain amendments— particularly related to renaming bases that honor Confederate military leaders — could push the vote later into the month. President Trump threatened to veto the legislation if it included this particular amendment, setting up a potential standoff between the executive and legislative branches on the annual defense spending bill. Meanwhile, House lawmakers on the Armed Services Committee will meet to markup the lower chamber’s version of the NDAA today. 

Washington Insider: What We’re Reading

The Wall Street Journal: USMCA Takes Effect but North American Trade Tensions Remain ($)

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement kicks in Wednesday, but the culmination of years of negotiations won’t necessarily mean the end of trade tensions among the three North American nations. Even as the deal formally takes effect, contentious issues that prolonged the negotiations are re-emerging as sore spots—including U.S. tariffs on metals, Mexico’s labor standards, Canada’s protection of its dairy market and new rules on automotive production.

The Hill: EPA to End Policy Suspending Pollution Monitoring by End of Summer

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will rescind its controversial policy allowing companies to skip monitoring their pollution by the end of the summer, the agency wrote in a letter to lawmakers. The policy, unveiled in a March 26 memo in an effort to help companies reduce regulatory burdens during the coronavirus, alerted companies they would not face penalties for failing to monitor their pollution emissions as required under a host of environmental laws. EPA said it would terminate the policy August 31, bringing to a close a directive that was previously listed as temporary but with no set end date.

The Wall Street Journal: Fed’s $600 Billion Main Street Lending Program Sees Lukewarm Interest ($)

The government is offering to lend up to $600 billion to help small and midsize businesses weather the coronavirus-induced recession, but so far interest has been sparse. Under the Main Street Lending Program, commercial banks lend to companies and then sell all but a small portion of each loan to the Federal Reserve. The Treasury Department stands ready to cover the Fed’s losses if companies fail to repay. The central concern: Companies in dire need of cash aren’t likely to be approved, while more creditworthy borrowers are likely to find similar or better terms on their own.

The Hill: FCC Formally Designates Huawei and ZTE as National Security Threats

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday formally designated Chinese telecommunications groups Huawei and ZTE as national security threats, blocking them from accessing FCC funds. The move was the formalization of a unanimous decision by the FCC in November to ban U.S. telecom groups from using the FCC’s $8.3 billion Universal Service Fund to purchase equipment from companies deemed threats. Both Huawei and ZTE were identified as national security threats in November, with the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau formalizing this process Tuesday.

COVID-19: What We’re Hearing

— ‘CARES 2.0’ STATE OF PLAY. At his weekly press conference yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated that GOP lawmakers have started to formulate priorities for the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. Leader McConnell noted that “kids, jobs, and health care” are the three primary areas of focus for Senate Republicans as they begin to formulate a package, saying that the upper chamber could take up a package between Jul. 20-Aug. 8. Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated at a House Financial Services hearing yesterday that Congress should pass economic stimulus legislation that focuses on industries that have been particularly hard hit. As the public health emergency continues to unfold, lawmakers are mulling over several policy options for the next round of legislation, including:

  • PPP. Following Congressional passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, Lawmakers are eyeing further reforms to the PPP.
  • Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) is drafting additional PPP legislation that would create new programs to expand the use of the remaining funds within the program, including a $25 billion set-aside for businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
  • Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have introduced a bill that would extend the PPP application deadline by six months and authorize new lending for businesses with fewer than 100 employees.
  • Additionally, there has been a bipartisan push in Congress to expand PPP eligibility to 501(c)6 organizations and other currently ineligible nonprofits in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. 
  • Liability. Leader McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) are working on legislation that would limit the liabilities of health care workers, business owners, and employees from lawsuits pertaining to the COVID-19 outbreak. Leader McConnell emphasized that any future COVID-19 relief efforts must include these protections in order for the Senate to consider additional relief legislation.
  • House Democratic leadership appears open to negotiating a deal on liability protections. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) emphasized that these protections must not undermine the health and rights of workers, but indicated that the issue is open for further discussion and negotiation.
  • Unemployment Reform. Senate Republicans are spearheading efforts on reforming the enhanced unemployment benefits so that generous payments approved in the CARES Act don’t become an obstacle to rehiring workers.
  • A key option on the table includes enhancing a tax credit that would give employers a tax break for keeping workers on the payroll.
  • State and Local Governments. Funding for state and local governments is a key pillar of the Democrats’ next stimulus bill. While there is bipartisan agreement that more needs to be done to help stymie economic hardships for these entities, allocating additional funding has become a divisive issue within the Republican conference.
  • It appears likely that some Senate Republicans — particularly those who are up for re-election — would coalesce behind a bipartisan proposal that would provide additional funding and flexibility to address needs at the state and local level.
  • Surprise Billing. Reports out of the Trump administration suggest that the White House will push for action on surprise medical bills ahead of the next round of relief legislation.
  • During the CARES Act negotiations, Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) were actively trying to tack their surprise billing legislation onto the package. 
  • Budget Reform. A bipartisan group of House lawmakers penned a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) calling for provisions that address the federal debt and trust funds for Medicare and Social Security to be included in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation.

APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend the Congressional schedule, lawmakers are adjusting their expectations for consideration of fiscal year (FY) 2021 spending bills.

  • House. Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) officially announced the House Appropriations Subcommittee markup schedule for the week of Jul. 6.
  • Jul. 6: State & Foreign Operations, Agriculture, Military Construction-VA
  • Jul. 7: Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Legislative Branch, Energy-Water, Labor-HHS-Education
  • Jul. 8: Commerce-Science-Justice, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, Financial Services and General Government, Defense.
  • Senate. Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) is delaying the forthcoming markups ahead of the July 4 recess amid partisan disagreements over COVID-19 relief and police reform amendments that Democrats want to offer. 

When the Appropriations Committee begins its markup process, appropriators will look to skip subcommittee markups for seven out of the FY 2021 spending bills, going straight to full committee markups instead. Senators on the panel are also expected to vote on the 302(b) funding allocations for each of the 12 bills ahead of the forthcoming markups.

COVID-19 Legislative & Regulatory Trackers

NEW TODAY…

— OMB PUBLISHES SPRING UNIFIED REGULATORY AGENDA FOLLOWING PANDEMIC DELAY. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its Spring 2020 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Unified Agenda) (OMB Page, HHS Agenda) yesterday following a lengthy delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to read TRP’s analysis on forthcoming rules from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

— FDA RELEASES GUIDANCE ON COVID-19 VACCINE AUTHORIZATIONS. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new guidance describing its expectations for potential COVID-19 vaccines that would be necessary to meet to receive approval. The agency describes acceptable primary and secondary endpoints for clinical trials, encourages standardization across clinical trials, and sets 50 percent efficacy as a primary endpoint. Efficacy may mean either preventing infection or preventing symptoms.

  • In addition, FDA raises the possibility of using so-called “challenge trials,” or deliberately exposing human subjects to infection, if it is not possible to demonstrate effectiveness through clinical disease endpoint efficacy studies. This guidance comes as stakeholders raise concerns about whether the public will trust a vaccine that has been rapidly developed to combat COVID-19.

CMS UPDATES MEDICAID FAQS. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a document addressing COVID-related questions from states and Medicaid stakeholders. The new frequently asked questions cover a broad range of topics, including financing changes and rate adjustments impacting providers, the optional COVID-19 testing group, and coverage of COVID-19 drugs and services among others.  

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS…

— TRP SPECIAL REPORT: COVID-19 EMERGENCY DECLARATIONS AND HEALTH POLICY. TRP’s newest Special Report describes how emergencies are declared, how they end, the health-related flexibilities that were enabled by the declarations, and what will happen when the emergencies expire.

—TREASURY UPDATES CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUND FAQS. The Treasury Department recently updated its list of frequently asked questions for the state, local, and tribal Coronavirus Relief Fund. New information includes non-federal match requirements under the Stafford Act, nonprofit eligibility, and flexibility on covering costs of public health and public safety employees.

— FED ISSUES NEW TERM SHEET FOR PMCCF. The Federal Reserve issued a new term sheet outlining pricing information for the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility

— HHS SECURES NEW SUPPLY OF KEY COVID-19 TREATMENT. HHS announced an agreement to secure more than 500,000 doses of the antiviral Remdesivir for U.S. hospitals from Gilead Sciences through September.

— FEDERAL RESERVE PUBLISHES STRESS TEST, COVID-19 SENSITIVITY RESULTS. The Federal Reserve published results of its stress tests for 2020 and additional sensitivity analyses that the Board conducted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

— CMS ISSUES SPECIAL TRENDS REPORT ON HEALTHCARE.GOV SIGNUPS DURING COVID-19 CMS published a special trends report outlining the number of individuals who signed up for coverage on HealthCare.gov through a special enrollment period (SEP) during the pandemic.

— CMS TO END BLANKET WAIVER REQUIRING NURSING HOMES TO SUBMIT STAFFING DATA. CMS announced plans to end the emergency blanket waiver requiring all nursing homes to resume submitting staffing data through the Payroll-Based Journal (PBJ) system by August 14, 2020.

— HHS LAUNCHES PROGRAM AIMED AT FIGHTING COVID-19 IN MINORITY, RURAL COMMUNITIES. HHS announced a new three-year, $40 million program with the Morehouse School of Medicine to deliver COVID-19 information to minority and rural communities in an effort to combat the pandemic in these areas.

— CFPB ISSUES INTERIM FINAL RULE ON LOSS MITIGATION OPTIONS FOR HOMEOWNERS. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued an interim final rule that will allow borrowers who have experienced financial hardships due to COVID-19 to delay payments even if they have only a limited amount of information on the homeowner.

— NEW FED EXAMINER GUIDANCE SEEKS TO PROMOTE FLEXIBILITY. The Federal Reserve issued new examiner guidance that seeks to promote consistency and flexibility in the supervision and examination of financial institutions that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

— CMS RELEASES COVID-19 DATA, ISSUES CALL TO ACTION ON VALUE-BASED CARE. CMS released new data on the COVID-19 outbreak that highlights racial and socioeconomic divides among Medicare beneficiaries who were infected. As a result of this data, the agency is calling for a renewed national commitment to value-based care.

— SBA, TREASURY REACH AGREEMENT ON PPP TRANSPARENCY. The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Treasury Department reached an agreement with Congress to disclose information regarding recipients of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The names of businesses who received loans ranging from $150,000 to $10 million will be disclosed publicly by the federal government.

— SBA LAUNCHES TOOL TO CONNECT BUSINESSES WITH CDFIS AND SMALL ASSET LENDERS. SBA launched an online tool for small businesses and non-profits to be matched with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), Farm Credit System lenders, Microlenders, as well as traditional smaller asset size lenders in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

— SBA REOPENS EIDL AND EIDL ADVANCE PROGRAM. The SBA announced that it has reopened the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance program portal to all eligible applicants experiencing economic impacts due to COVID-19.

COVID-19: Federal Update (6/30)

Quick Takes

— HOUSE SET TO VOTE ON $1.5T INFRASTRUCTURE PACKAGE. House lawmakers will convene for legislative business today to consider a sweeping 10-year, $1.5 trillion package of infrastructure legislation

— SENATE PICKS UP NDAA DEBATE. The Senate will convene this morning to resume consideration of the upper chamber’s FY 2021 NDAA.

— IRS PROCEEDING WITH JULY 15 FILING DEADLINE The Treasury Department and IRS said late Monday that they are proceeding with a July 15 tax-filing deadline.

— TREASURY UPDATES CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUND FAQS. New information includes non-federal match requirements under the Stafford Act, nonprofit eligibility, and flexibility on covering costs of public health and public safety employees.

— TRP SPECIAL REPORT: COVID-19 EMERGENCY DECLARATIONS AND HEALTH POLICY. TRP’s newest Special Report describes how emergencies are declared, how they end, the health-related flexibilities that were enabled by the declarations, and what will happen when the emergencies expire.

 Capitol Hill Update

— HOUSE SET TO VOTE ON $1.5T INFRASTRUCTURE PACKAGE. House lawmakers will convene for legislative business today to consider a sweeping 10-year, $1.5 trillion package of infrastructure legislation (textsummaryfact sheet) prior to adjourning for the July 4 district work period. The wide-ranging, ambitious package would allocate funding to address several key areas including surface transportation, schools and child care facilities, hospital and health care infrastructure, drinking water, housing, broadband, and green energy. It would also look to promote and expand bond financing tools to help state and local governments raise money to address their own projects. The package is likely to pass the lower chamber along party lines today but is considered dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled Senate after the White House issued a veto threat yesterday. However, with the current surface transportation law set to expire on Sept. 30, officials will likely look to reach a compromise version that reflects bipartisan priorities in the House and Senate surface transportation reauthorization measures.

— SENATE PICKS UP NDAA DEBATE. The Senate will convene this morning to resume consideration of the upper chamber’s FY 2021 NDAA (textsummaryreporttables). With the upper chamber eyeing passage of the bill ahead of the July 4 district work period, Senators will meet during their weekly caucus meetings today to discuss a path forward on additional amendments, as well as a timeline for the final passage of the $740 billion measure. Meanwhile, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK) released an updated amendment in the nature of a substitute yesterday, which incorporated dozens of amendments to the underlying bill.

— HOUSE PASSES ACA, DRUG PRICING REFORMS. The House passed a bill yesterday along mostly party lines to shore up the ACA. The Affordable Care Act Enhancement Act (H.R. 1425) would expand ACA subsidies to higher income brackets along with other reforms to the marketplaces, provide incentives for more states to expand Medicaid and penalties for those who do not, and create a mandatory 12-month continuous eligibility period for Medicaid. It would also adopt the prescription drug negotiation and international reference pricing strategy contained in H.R. 3, the Democrats’ major drug pricing legislation that passed last year. Two Republicans, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), voted in favor of the bill, while one Democrat, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), voted against it. An additional 18 Republicans did not vote (full roll call results are here). Rep. Peterson voted against the original ACA when it passed the House in 2010, and of the 34 Democrats who voted against the bill, he is one of only three still serving in the House, with Reps. Steven Lynch (D-MA) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL). Meanwhile, an aide to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said that the Finance Chairman would re-introduce his drug pricing legislation, the Prescription Drug Price Reduction Act, “in the coming days.” Sen. Grassley also published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal accusing Democrats of walking away from negotiations on drug pricing but asserting that he would push to include his legislation in a coming COVID-19 relief package.

Washington Insider: What We’re Reading

The Hill: IRS Proceeding With July 15 Filing Deadline

The Treasury Department and IRS said late Monday that they are proceeding with a July 15 tax-filing deadline, after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week left the door open to an additional extension. Treasury and the IRS in March extended the tax filing and payment deadlines from April 15 to July 15, due to the coronavirus pandemic. As is typically the case, people can request a filing extension to Oct. 15.

The Wall Street Journal: Fed Chairman Says Economy Faces New Challenges From Coronavirus ($)

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell was set to tell lawmakers Tuesday that the reopening of the U.S. economy—and the accompanying upturn in spending and hiring this spring—came sooner than central bank officials had expected. But he says the push to lift restrictions on commercial activity carries risks, evidenced by recent increases in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations in states across the U.S. South and Southwest. “We have entered an important new phase and have done so sooner than expected,” Mr. Powell says in testimony prepared for delivery before a congressional committee. “While this bounce back in economic activity is welcome, it also presents new challenges—notably, the need to keep the virus in check.”

Roll Call: Effort to Crack Big Tech’s Legal Shield Gains Bipartisan Momentum

Bipartisan support for a pair of Senate bills that would force social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter to change their content moderation policies could mark a turning point in Washington’s ongoing efforts to maintain greater control over Silicon Valley. Both Republicans and Democrats have frequently criticized a landmark 1996 law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, that protects online companies from being sued for third-party content posted on their sites. Section 230 is credited with fostering the technology sector’s rapid growth in the past two decades, even as some have argued it gives large companies too much power.

The Hill: Nearly Twice as Many Homes at Risk for Serious Flooding Than Previously Predicted, Study Finds

Nearly twice as many homes face a substantial risk of flooding than the number in earlier government predictions, according to new study. The study from the First Street Foundation estimates some 14.6 million properties around the country are at risk, with nearly 6 million people “currently unaware of or underestimating the risk they face.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), by comparison, estimates just 8.7 million properties are at risk of a 100-year flood.

COVID-19: What We’re Hearing

— ‘CARES 2.0’ STATE OF PLAY. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated that Congress will likely need to pass another round of COVID-19 relief legislation, Republicans are pushing for a more narrowly-targeted relief package following better-than-expected jobs numbers for the month of May, and the White House would prefer to wait and see the June labor numbers before negotiating with Congress in earnest. Conversely, Congressional Democrats are remaining steadfast on their push for another robust stimulus package. As the public health emergency continues to unfold, lawmakers are mulling over several policy options for the next round of legislation, including:

  • Liability. Leader McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) are working on legislation that would limit the liabilities of health care workers, business owners, and employees from lawsuits pertaining to the COVID-19 outbreak. Leader McConnell emphasized that any future COVID-19 relief efforts must include these protections in order for the Senate to consider additional relief legislation.
    • House Democratic leadership appears open to negotiating a deal on liability protections. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) emphasized that these protections must not undermine the health and rights of workers, but indicated that the issue is open for further discussion and negotiation.
  • Unemployment Reform. Senate Republicans are spearheading efforts on reforming the enhanced unemployment benefits so that generous payments approved in the CARES Act don’t become an obstacle to rehiring workers.
    • A key option on the table includes enhancing a tax credit that would give employers a tax break for keeping workers on the payroll.
  • State and Local Governments. Funding for state and local governments is a key pillar of the Democrats’ next stimulus bill. While there is bipartisan agreement that more needs to be done to help stymie economic hardships for these entities, allocating additional funding has become a divisive issue within the Republican conference.
    • It appears likely that some Senate Republicans — particularly those who are up for re-election — would coalesce behind a bipartisan proposal that would provide additional funding and flexibility to address needs at the state and local level.
  • PPP. Following Congressional passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, Lawmakers are eyeing further reforms to the PPP.
    • Prior to Senate passage of H.R. 7010, Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Mike Lee (R-UT) — who had expressed concerns and opposition to the House-passed bill — secured a letter from key Small Business Committee members in both chambers clarifying that the intent of the legislation is not to reauthorize the program through the end of the year without additional reforms.
    • Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) have also indicated they are working on a technical change to the legislation that would ensure businesses can have their loans forgiven in some form regardless of whether they reach the 60 percent threshold.
    • Additionally, there has been a bipartisan push in Congress to expand PPP eligibility to 501(c)6 organizations and other currently ineligible nonprofits in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. 
  • Surprise Billing. Reports out of the Trump administration suggest that the White House will push for action on surprise medical bills ahead of the next round of relief legislation.
    • During the CARES Act negotiations, Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) were actively trying to tack their surprise billing legislation onto the package. 
  • Budget Reform. A bipartisan group of House lawmakers penned a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) calling for provisions that address the federal debt and trust funds for Medicare and Social Security to be included in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation.

 APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend the Congressional schedule, lawmakers are adjusting their expectations for consideration of fiscal year (FY) 2021 spending bills.

  • House. Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) officially announced the House Appropriations Subcommittee markup schedule for the week of Jul. 6.
    • Jul. 6: State & Foreign Operations, Agriculture, Military Construction-VA
    • Jul. 7: Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Legislative Branch, Energy-Water, Labor-HHS-Education
    • Jul. 8: Commerce-Science-Justice, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, Financial Services and General Government, Defense.
  • Senate. Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) is delaying the forthcoming markups ahead of the July 4 recess amid partisan disagreements over COVID-19 relief and police reform amendments that Democrats want to offer. 
    • When the Appropriations Committee begins its markup process, appropriators will look to skip subcommittee markups for seven out of the FY 2021 spending bills, going straight to full committee markups instead. Senators on the panel are also expected to vote on the 302(b) funding allocations for each of the 12 bills ahead of the forthcoming markups.

COVID-19 Legislative & Regulatory Trackers

NEW TODAY…

— TRP SPECIAL REPORT: COVID-19 EMERGENCY DECLARATIONS AND HEALTH POLICY. TRP’s newest Special Report describes how emergencies are declared, how they end, the health-related flexibilities that were enabled by the declarations, and what will happen when the emergencies expire.

—TREASURY UPDATES CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUND FAQS. The Treasury Department recently updated its list of frequently asked questions for the state, local, and tribal Coronavirus Relief Fund. New information includes non-federal match requirements under the Stafford Act, nonprofit eligibility, and flexibility on covering costs of public health and public safety employees.

— FED ISSUES NEW TERM SHEET FOR PMCCF. The Federal Reserve issued a new term sheet outlining pricing information for the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS…

— HHS SECURES NEW SUPPLY OF KEY COVID-19 TREATMENT. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced an agreement to secure more than 500,000 doses of the antiviral remdesivir for U.S. hospitals from Gilead Sciences through September.

— FEDERAL RESERVE PUBLISHES STRESS TEST, COVID-19 SENSITIVITY RESULTS. The Federal Reserve published results of its stress tests for 2020 and additional sensitivity analyses that the Board conducted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

— CMS ISSUES SPECIAL TRENDS REPORT ON HEALTHCARE.GOV SIGNUPS DURING COVID-19 The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a special trends report outlining the number of individuals who signed up for coverage on HealthCare.gov through a special enrollment period (SEP) during the pandemic.

— CMS TO END BLANKET WAIVER REQUIRING NURSING HOMES TO SUBMIT STAFFING DATA. CMS announced plans to end the emergency blanket waiver requiring all nursing homes to resume submitting staffing data through the Payroll-Based Journal (PBJ) system by August 14, 2020.

— HHS LAUNCHES PROGRAM AIMED AT FIGHTING COVID-19 IN MINORITY, RURAL COMMUNITIES. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new three-year, $40 million program with the Morehouse School of Medicine to deliver COVID-19 information to minority and rural communities in an effort to combat the pandemic in these areas.

— CFPB ISSUES INTERIM FINAL RULE ON LOSS MITIGATION OPTIONS FOR HOMEOWNERS. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued an interim final rule that will allow borrowers who have experienced financial hardships due to COVID-19 to delay payments even if they have only a limited amount of information on the homeowner.

— NEW FED EXAMINER GUIDANCE SEEKS TO PROMOTE FLEXIBILITY. The Federal Reserve issued new examiner guidance that seeks to promote consistency and flexibility in the supervision and examination of financial institutions that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

— CMS RELEASES COVID-19 DATA, ISSUES CALL TO ACTION ON VALUE-BASED CARE. CMS released new data on the COVID-19 outbreak that highlights racial and socioeconomic divides among Medicare beneficiaries who were infected. As a result of this data, the agency is calling for a renewed national commitment to value-based care.

— SBA, TREASURY REACH AGREEMENT ON PPP TRANSPARENCY. The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Treasury Department reached an agreement with Congress to disclose information regarding recipients of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The names of businesses who received loans ranging from $150,000 to $10 million will be disclosed publicly by the federal government.

— SBA LAUNCHES TOOL TO CONNECT BUSINESSES WITH CDFIS AND SMALL ASSET LENDERS. SBA launched an online tool for small businesses and non-profits to be matched with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), Farm Credit System lenders, Microlenders, as well as traditional smaller asset size lenders in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

— SBA REOPENS EIDL AND EIDL ADVANCE PROGRAM. The SBA announced that it has reopened the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance program portal to all eligible applicants experiencing economic impacts due to COVID-19.

— HHS ANNOUNCES $25 BILLION IN RELIEF FUNDING FOR MEDICAID PROVIDERS, SAFETY NET HOSPITALS. HHS announced the allocation of $25 billion from the Provider Relief Fund, including $15 billion for Medicaid and CHIP providers, as well as $10 billion for safety net hospitals. TRP’s comprehensive analysis of the COVID-19 provider relief fund can be read here.

COVID-19: Federal Update (6/29)

Quick Takes

— ACA STABILIZATION BILL HITS HOUSE FLOOR. The package aims to shore up health insurance subsidies, expand Medicaid eligibility, and institute direct negotiations between the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and drug manufacturers on pharmaceuticals covered by Medicare Parts B and D.

— LAWMAKERS PICK UP CONSIDERATION OF CREDIT REFORM BILL. The bill would reform the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to promote “fair and accurate” credit reporting.

— FILIBUSTER REFORM GAINS STEAM WITH DEMOCRATS. Democrats are stepping up talks about reforming or abolishing the filibuster if they win back the Senate and White House in November.

— HHS SECURES NEW SUPPLY OF KEY COVID-19 TREATMENT. More than 500,000 doses of the antiviral remdesivir will be available to U.S. hospitals from Gilead Sciences through September.

 Capitol Hill Update

— ACA STABILIZATION BILL HITS HOUSE FLOOR. House lawmakers will convene today as the lower chamber prepares to vote on a package of reforms to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill aims to shore up health insurance subsidies, expand Medicaid eligibility, and institute direct negotiations between the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and drug manufacturers on pharmaceuticals covered by Medicare Parts B and D. The drug pricing provisions mirror the negotiation and international price index provisions passed by the House in H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act and appear intended to offset the costs of the ACA improvement legislation. CBO estimated that Title I of that bill, which is contained in this new legislation, would save nearly $456 billion over ten years. While the bill is expected to pass the House, it has no prospects of being taken up by the Senate. For more, click here to read TRP’s analysis of this measure.

— LAWMAKERS PICK UP CONSIDERATION OF CREDIT REFORM BILL. In addition to the ACA reform legislation, Members will also resume consideration of a bill sponsored by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Tom Reed (R-NY) that seeks to reform the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to promote “fair and accurate” credit reporting. Specifically, the Protecting Your Credit Score Act would: (1) create an online portal that provides consumers with access to free credit reports and scores; (2) give the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) with statutory authority to supervise credit reporting agencies; and (3) mandate that credit reporting agencies provide information to consumers surrounding the procurement of a credit report, among other things. While the bill is expected to pass the lower chamber later today, it faces an uncertain path in the GOP-controlled Senate during the remainder of this Congress. Additionally, the House will also Congressional Review Act resolution that seeks to overturn the Trump administration’s regulation pertaining to the Community Reinvestment Act.

— SENATE TAKES UP FY 2021 NDAA. Senators will convene this afternoon to pick up consideration of the upper chamber’s FY 2021 NDAA (textsummaryreporttables). Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) filed a vote to move onto the $740 billion annual defense bill after Senate Democrats blocked a procedural vote on the Senate GOP’s police reform legislation last week. The Senate will look to pass the NDAA prior to the July 4 district work period next week, however, debate on certain amendments— particularly related to renaming bases that honor Confederate military leaders — could push the vote later into the month. Meanwhile, House lawmakers on the Armed Services Committee will meet to markup the lower chamber’s version of the NDAA this week.

Washington Insider: What We’re Reading

The Hill: Filibuster Reform Gains Steam with Democrats

Democrats are stepping up talks about reforming or abolishing the filibuster if they win back the Senate and White House in November. The renewed discussions are being spurred by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), an outspoken liberal who has long championed revamping the procedural tactic that Democrats see as a serious obstacle to passing legislation and confirming nominees.

Associated Press: Supreme Court Declines to Hear Border Wall Challenge

The Supreme Court is leaving in place a decision that rejected environmental groups’ challenge to sections of wall the Trump administration is building along the U.S. border with Mexico. The high court on Monday declined to hear an appeal involving construction of 145 miles (233 kilometers) of steel-bollard walls along the border in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.

Roll Call: GOP Irked as $14 Billion for Water Systems Became $40 Billion

When House Democrats released a massive $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill covering everything from schools to broadband to wastewater on June 22, Republicans were dismayed — and not just because they’d had little input on the package. Instead, they say, the 2,309-page measure ignores previous agreements between Republicans and Democrats on items that both sides had lauded just months ago. Key among those agreements: the October 2019 House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s bipartisan vote to advance a bill that would reauthorize the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. That measure included $14 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund — the primary vehicle for the federal government to steer money to wastewater infrastructure.

Morning Consult: With Volcker Rule in Rearview Mirror, FDIC Chair Says Fintech, Small-Dollar Lending on Her Agenda

  The Senate on Thursday passed a sweeping sanctions bill targeting China’s violations of Hong Kong’s independence, a week after the White House helped stall the legislation. The bill, which imposes mandatory sanctions on individuals, entities and banks that enable China’s encroachments through a new national security law, was adopted unanimously after Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) secured an agreement with the White House. The senators also allowed for their measure to pass alongside a resolution by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) condemning Beijing’s national security law that cracks down on Hong Kong’s sovereignty.

COVID-19: What We’re Hearing

— ‘CARES 2.0’ STATE OF PLAY. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated that Congress will likely need to pass another round of COVID-19 relief legislation, Republicans are pushing for a more narrowly-targeted relief package following better-than-expected jobs numbers for the month of May, and the White House would prefer to wait and see the June labor numbers before negotiating with Congress in earnest. Conversely, Congressional Democrats are remaining steadfast on their push for another robust stimulus package. As the public health emergency continues to unfold, lawmakers are mulling over several policy options for the next round of legislation, including:

  • Liability. Leader McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) are working on legislation that would limit the liabilities of health care workers, business owners, and employees from lawsuits pertaining to the COVID-19 outbreak. Leader McConnell emphasized that any future COVID-19 relief efforts must include these protections in order for the Senate to consider additional relief legislation.
  • House Democratic leadership appears open to negotiating a deal on liability protections. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) emphasized that these protections must not undermine the health and rights of workers, but indicated that the issue is open for further discussion and negotiation.
  • Unemployment Reform. Senate Republicans are spearheading efforts on reforming the enhanced unemployment benefits so that generous payments approved in the CARES Act don’t become an obstacle to rehiring workers.
  • A key option on the table includes enhancing a tax credit that would give employers a tax break for keeping workers on the payroll.
  • State and Local Governments. Funding for state and local governments is a key pillar of the Democrats’ next stimulus bill. While there is bipartisan agreement that more needs to be done to help stymie economic hardships for these entities, allocating additional funding has become a divisive issue within the Republican conference.
  • It appears likely that some Senate Republicans — particularly those who are up for re-election — would coalesce behind a bipartisan proposal that would provide additional funding and flexibility to address needs at the state and local level.
  • PPP. Following Congressional passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, Lawmakers are eyeing further reforms to the PPP.
  • Prior to Senate passage of H.R. 7010, Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Mike Lee (R-UT) — who had expressed concerns and opposition to the House-passed bill secured a letter from key Small Business Committee members in both chambers clarifying that the intent of the legislation is not to reauthorize the program through the end of the year without additional reforms.
  • Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) have also indicated they are working on a technical change to the legislation that would ensure businesses can have their loans forgiven in some form regardless of whether they reach the 60 percent threshold.
  • Additionally, there has been a bipartisan push in Congress to expand PPP eligibility to 501(c)6 organizations and other currently ineligible nonprofits in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. 
  • Surprise Billing. Reports out of the Trump administration suggest that the White House will push for action on surprise medical bills ahead of the next round of relief legislation.
  • During the CARES Act negotiations, Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) were actively trying to tack their surprise billing legislation onto the package. 
  • Budget Reform. A bipartisan group of House lawmakers penned a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) calling for provisions that address the federal debt and trust funds for Medicare and Social Security to be included in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation.

APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend the Congressional schedule, lawmakers are adjusting their expectations for consideration of fiscal year (FY) 2021 spending bills.

  • House. Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) officially announced the House Appropriations Subcommittee markup schedule for the week of Jul. 6.
  • Jul. 6: State & Foreign Operations, Agriculture, Military Construction-VA
  • Jul. 7: Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Legislative Branch, Energy-Water, Labor-HHS-Education
  • Jul. 8: Commerce-Science-Justice, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, Financial Services and General Government, Defense.
  • Senate. Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) is delaying the forthcoming markups ahead of the July 4 recess amid partisan disagreements over COVID-19 relief and police reform amendments that Democrats want to offer. 

When the Appropriations Committee begins its markup process, appropriators will look to skip subcommittee markups for seven out of the FY 2021 spending bills, going straight to full committee markups instead. Senators on the panel are also expected to vote on the 302(b) funding allocations for each of the 12 bills ahead of the forthcoming markups.

COVID-19 Legislative & Regulatory Trackers

NEW TODAY…

— HHS SECURES NEW SUPPLY OF KEY COVID-19 TREATMENT. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced an agreement to secure more than 500,000 doses of the antiviral remdesivir for U.S. hospitals from Gilead Sciences through September.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS…

— FEDERAL RESERVE PUBLISHES STRESS TEST, COVID-19 SENSITIVITY RESULTS. The Federal Reserve published results of its stress tests for 2020 and additional sensitivity analyses that the Board conducted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

— CMS ISSUES SPECIAL TRENDS REPORT ON HEALTHCARE.GOV SIGNUPS DURING COVID-19 The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a special trends report outlining the number of individuals who signed up for coverage on HealthCare.gov through a special enrollment period (SEP) during the pandemic.

— CMS TO END BLANKET WAIVER REQUIRING NURSING HOMES TO SUBMIT STAFFING DATA. CMS announced plans to end the emergency blanket waiver requiring all nursing homes to resume submitting staffing data through the Payroll-Based Journal (PBJ) system by August 14, 2020.

— HHS LAUNCHES PROGRAM AIMED AT FIGHTING COVID-19 IN MINORITY, RURAL COMMUNITIES. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new three-year, $40 million program with the Morehouse School of Medicine to deliver COVID-19 information to minority and rural communities in an effort to combat the pandemic in these areas.

— CFPB ISSUES INTERIM FINAL RULE ON LOSS MITIGATION OPTIONS FOR HOMEOWNERS. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued an interim final rule that will allow borrowers who have experienced financial hardships due to COVID-19 to delay payments even if they have only a limited amount of information on the homeowner.

— NEW FED EXAMINER GUIDANCE SEEKS TO PROMOTE FLEXIBILITY. The Federal Reserve issued new examiner guidance that seeks to promote consistency and flexibility in the supervision and examination of financial institutions that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

— CMS RELEASES COVID-19 DATA, ISSUES CALL TO ACTION ON VALUE-BASED CARE. CMS released new data on the COVID-19 outbreak that highlights racial and socioeconomic divides among Medicare beneficiaries who were infected. As a result of this data, the agency is calling for a renewed national commitment to value-based care.

— SBA, TREASURY REACH AGREEMENT ON PPP TRANSPARENCY. The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Treasury Department reached an agreement with Congress to disclose information regarding recipients of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The names of businesses who received loans ranging from $150,000 to $10 million will be disclosed publicly by the federal government.

— SBA LAUNCHES TOOL TO CONNECT BUSINESSES WITH CDFIS AND SMALL ASSET LENDERS. SBA launched an online tool for small businesses and non-profits to be matched with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), Farm Credit System lenders, Microlenders, as well as traditional smaller asset size lenders in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

— SBA REOPENS EIDL AND EIDL ADVANCE PROGRAM. The SBA announced that it has reopened the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance program portal to all eligible applicants experiencing economic impacts due to COVID-19.

— HHS ANNOUNCES $25 BILLION IN RELIEF FUNDING FOR MEDICAID PROVIDERS, SAFETY NET HOSPITALS. HHS announced the allocation of $25 billion from the Provider Relief Fund, including $15 billion for Medicaid and CHIP providers, as well as $10 billion for safety net hospitals. TRP’s comprehensive analysis of the COVID-19 provider relief fund can be read here.

COVID-19: Federal Update (6/25)

Quick Takes

— DEMOCRATS EYE VOTE ON $1.5T INFRASTRUCTURE PACKAGE. House Democrats are expected to call up a sweeping 10 year, $1.5 trillion package of infrastructure legislation.

— CREDIT REFORM BILL SET TO HIT HOUSE FLOOR. The bill would reform the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to promote “fair and accurate” credit reporting.

— CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE TO HOLD FIRST PUBLIC BRIEFING IN NEARLY 2 MONTHS AS CASES RISE. The White House announced Thursday night that Vice President Mike Pence would lead a public coronavirus task force briefing Friday morning.

— FEDERAL RESERVE PUBLISHES STRESS TEST, COVID-19 SENSITIVITY RESULTS. The Federal Reserve published results of its stress tests for 2020 and additional sensitivity analyses that the Board conducted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 Capitol Hill Update

— DEMOCRATS EYE VOTE ON $1.5T INFRASTRUCTURE PACKAGE. House Democrats are expected to call up a sweeping 10 year, $1.5 trillion package of infrastructure legislation (text; summary; fact sheet) prior to adjourning for the July 4 district work period next week. The wide-ranging, ambitious package would allocate funding to address several key areas including surface transportation, schools and child care facilities, hospital and health care infrastructure, drinking water, housing, broadband, and green energy. It would also look to promote and expand bond financing tools to help state and local governments raise money to address their own projects. The package is likely to pass the lower chamber next week, but is considered dead-on-arrival in the GOP-controlled Senate. However, with the current surface transportation law set to expire on Sept. 30, officials will likely look to reach a compromise version that reflects bipartisan priorities in the House and Senate surface transportation reauthorization measures.

— CREDIT REFORM BILL SET TO HIT HOUSE FLOOR. On the floor for today, House lawmakers will begin consideration of a bill sponsored by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Tom Reed (R-NY) that seeks to reform the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to promote “fair and accurate” credit reporting. Specifically, the Protecting Your Credit Score would: (1) create an online portal that provides consumers with access to free credit reports and scores; (2) give the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) with statutory authority to supervise credit reporting agencies; and (3) mandate that credit reporting agencies provide information to consumers surrounding the procurement of a credit report, among other things. While the bill is expected to pass the lower chamber at some point next week, it faces an uncertain path in the GOP-controlled Senate. Additionally, lawmakers will also consider a measure that would make Washington, D.C. the 51st state, as well as a Congressional Review Act resolution that seeks to overturn the Trump administration’s regulation pertaining to the Community Reinvestment Act.

— HOUSE READIES VOTE ON ACA STABILIZATION BILL. House Democrats are preparing to vote on a package of reforms to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for a vote next week. The bill aims to shore up health insurance subsidies, expand Medicaid eligibility, and institute direct negotiations between the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and drug manufacturers on drugs covered by Medicare Parts B and D. The drug pricing provisions mirror the negotiation and international price index provisions passed by the House in H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act and appear intended to offset the costs of the ACA improvement legislation. CBO estimated that Title I of that bill, which is contained in this new legislation, would save nearly $456 billion over ten years. While the bill is expected to pass the House, it has no prospects of being taken up by the Senate. For more, click here to read TRP’s analysis of this measure.

Washington Insider: What We’re Reading

CNN: Coronavirus Task Force to Hold First Public Briefing in Nearly 2 Months as Cases Rise

The White House announced Thursday night that Vice President Mike Pence would lead a public coronavirus task force briefing Friday morning, the first public meeting in almost two months. The announcement comes as at least 30 states are seeing a resurgence in cases of Covid-19, and California, Oklahoma and Texas are seeing fresh high peaks. The briefing will not take place at the White House, but at the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a schedule released by the White House.

The Wall Street Journal: House Passes Democrats’ Policing Bill, but No Path Seen for Deal ($)

The House passed a Democratic bill on Thursday to overhaul the nation’s law-enforcement practices in the wake of protests over police abuses and racism, but the prospects for any legislation becoming law remained dim amid sharp differences with a rival Republican proposal. Partisan disputes quickly emerged over the scope of the legislation, and no progress was made in reaching a compromise. The bill passed 236-181 in the Democratic-controlled House, but the GOP-led Senate has called it a nonstarter. On Wednesday, Senate Democrats blocked a rival GOP bill from advancing in that chamber. 

The Hill: House Democrats Unveil Green Tax Package

House Democrats unveiled a major green tax package Thursday, offering tax incentives for renewables, electric vehicles and a host of other environmentally friendly businesses. The legislation would extend several renewable energy tax breaks, including the production tax credit and the investment tax credit. It also would expand the electric vehicle tax credit and create new tax credits for buyers of used electric cars and manufacturers of zero-emission commercial vehicles and buses.

Politico: Senate Passes China Sanctions Bill After White House Relents The Senate on Thursday passed a sweeping sanctions bill targeting China’s violations of Hong Kong’s independence, a week after the White House helped stall the legislation. The bill, which imposes mandatory sanctions on individuals, entities and banks that enable China’s encroachments through a new national security law, was adopted unanimously after Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) secured an agreement with the White House. The senators also allowed for their measure to pass alongside a resolution by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) condemning Beijing’s national security law that cracks down on Hong Kong’s sovereignty.

COVID-19: What We’re Hearing

— ‘CARES 2.0’ STATE OF PLAY. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated that Congress will likely need to pass another round of COVID-19 relief legislation, Republicans are pushing for a more narrowly-targeted relief package following better-than-expected jobs numbers for the month of May, and the White House would prefer to wait and see the June labor numbers before negotiating with Congress in earnest. Conversely, Congressional Democrats are remaining steadfast on their push for another robust stimulus package. As the public health emergency continues to unfold, lawmakers are mulling over several policy options for the next round of legislation, including:

  • Liability. Leader McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) are working on legislation that would limit the liabilities of health care workers, business owners, and employees from lawsuits pertaining to the COVID-19 outbreak. Leader McConnell emphasized that any future COVID-19 relief efforts must include these protections in order for the Senate to consider additional relief legislation.
    • House Democratic leadership appears open to negotiating a deal on liability protections. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) emphasized that these protections must not undermine the health and rights of workers, but indicated that the issue is open for further discussion and negotiation.
  • Unemployment Reform. Senate Republicans are spearheading efforts on reforming the enhanced unemployment benefits so that generous payments approved in the CARES Act don’t become an obstacle to rehiring workers.
    • A key option on the table includes enhancing a tax credit that would give employers a tax break for keeping workers on the payroll.
  • State and Local Governments. Funding for state and local governments is a key pillar of the Democrats’ next stimulus bill. While there is bipartisan agreement that more needs to be done to help stymie economic hardships for these entities, allocating additional funding has become a divisive issue within the Republican conference.
    • It appears likely that some Senate Republicans — particularly those who are up for re-election — would coalesce behind a bipartisan proposal that would provide additional funding and flexibility to address needs at the state and local level.
  • PPP. Following Congressional passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, Lawmakers are eyeing further reforms to the PPP.
    • Prior to Senate passage of H.R. 7010, Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Mike Lee (R-UT) — who had expressed concerns and opposition to the House-passed bill secured a letter from key Small Business Committee members in both chambers clarifying that the intent of the legislation is not to reauthorize the program through the end of the year without additional reforms.
    • Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) have also indicated they are working on a technical change to the legislation that would ensure businesses can have their loans forgiven in some form regardless of whether they reach the 60 percent threshold.
    • Additionally, there has been a bipartisan push in Congress to expand PPP eligibility to 501(c)6 organizations and other currently ineligible nonprofits in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. 
  • Surprise Billing. Reports out of the Trump administration suggest that the White House will push for action on surprise medical bills ahead of the next round of relief legislation.
    • During the CARES Act negotiations, Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) were actively trying to tack their surprise billing legislation onto the package. 
  • Budget Reform. A bipartisan group of House lawmakers penned a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) calling for provisions that address the federal debt and trust funds for Medicare and Social Security to be included in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation.

APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend the Congressional schedule, lawmakers are adjusting their expectations for consideration of fiscal year (FY) 2021 spending bills.

  • House. Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) officially announced the House Appropriations Subcommittee markup schedule for the week of Jul. 6.
    • Jul. 6: State & Foreign Operations, Agriculture, Military Construction-VA
    • Jul. 7: Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Legislative Branch, Energy-Water, Labor-HHS-Education
    • Jul. 8: Commerce-Science-Justice, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, Financial Services and General Government, Defense.
  • Senate. Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) is delaying the forthcoming markups ahead of the July 4 recess amid partisan disagreements over COVID-19 relief and police reform amendments that Democrats want to offer. 
    • When the Appropriations Committee begins its markup process, appropriators will look to skip subcommittee markups for seven out of the FY 2021 spending bills, going straight to full committee markups instead. Senators on the panel are also expected to vote on the 302(b) funding allocations for each of the 12 bills ahead of the forthcoming markups

COVID-19 Legislative & Regulatory Trackers

NEW TODAY…

— FEDERAL RESERVE PUBLISHES STRESS TEST, COVID-19 SENSITIVITY RESULTS. The Federal Reserve published results of its stress tests for 2020 and additional sensitivity analyses that the Board conducted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

— CMS ISSUES SPECIAL TRENDS REPORT ON HEALTHCARE.GOV SIGNUPS DURING COVID-19 The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a special trends report outlining the number of individuals who signed up for coverage on HealthCare.gov through a special enrollment period (SEP) during the pandemic.

— CMS TO END BLANKET WAIVER REQUIRING NURSING HOMES TO SUBMIT STAFFING DATA. CMS announced plans to end the emergency blanket waiver requiring all nursing homes to resume submitting staffing data through the Payroll-Based Journal (PBJ) system by August 14, 2020.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS…

— HHS LAUNCHES PROGRAM AIMED AT FIGHTING COVID-19 IN MINORITY, RURAL COMMUNITIES. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new three-year, $40 million program with the Morehouse School of Medicine to deliver COVID-19 information to minority and rural communities in an effort to combat the pandemic in these areas.

— CFPB ISSUES INTERIM FINAL RULE ON LOSS MITIGATION OPTIONS FOR HOMEOWNERS. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued an interim final rule that will allow borrowers who have experienced financial hardships due to COVID-19 to delay payments even if they have only a limited amount of information on the homeowner.

— NEW FED EXAMINER GUIDANCE SEEKS TO PROMOTE FLEXIBILITY. The Federal Reserve issued new examiner guidance that seeks to promote consistency and flexibility in the supervision and examination of financial institutions that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

— CMS RELEASES COVID-19 DATA, ISSUES CALL TO ACTION ON VALUE-BASED CARE. CMS released new data on the COVID-19 outbreak that highlights racial and socioeconomic divides among Medicare beneficiaries who were infected. As a result of this data, the agency is calling for a renewed national commitment to value-based care.

— SBA, TREASURY REACH AGREEMENT ON PPP TRANSPARENCY. The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Treasury Department reached an agreement with Congress to disclose information regarding recipients of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The names of businesses who received loans ranging from $150,000 to $10 million will be disclosed publicly by the federal government.

— SBA LAUNCHES TOOL TO CONNECT BUSINESSES WITH CDFIS AND SMALL ASSET LENDERS. SBA launched an online tool for small businesses and non-profits to be matched with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), Farm Credit System lenders, Microlenders, as well as traditional smaller asset size lenders in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

— CMS ANNOUNCES MEMBERSHIP OF INDEPENDENT CORONAVIRUS COMMISSION ON SAFETY AND QUALITY IN NURSING HOMES. CMS announced the membership of the Independent Coronavirus Commission on Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes.

  • The Commission will conduct an assessment of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in nursing homes and make recommendations on actions and best practices for immediate and future actions.

— HHS TO HOLD WEBINARS ON PROVIDER RELIEF FUND. HHS will hold two webcasts this week for providers to learn more about the application process for the $15 billion Medicaid and CHIP targeted allotment.

— IRS ISSUES GUIDANCE ON CARES TELEHEALTH AND VIRTUAL CARE FLEXIBILITIES. The IRS recently outlined flexibilities and issued guidance addressing the CARES safe harbor provision allowing high deductible health plans (HDHPs) with health savings accounts (HSAs) to cover telehealth and remote care before a patient reaches their deductible. The temporary flexibility applies to services provided on or after Jan. 1, 2020, for plan years beginning on or before Dec. 31, 2021.

— SBA, TREASURY ANNOUNCE NEW AND REVISED FORGIVENESS APPLICATION FOR PPP. The SBA and Treasury Department posted a revised Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgiveness application as mandated by the PPP Flexibility Act.

  • SBA also published a new “EZ version” of the forgiveness application that applies to borrowers that: (1) are self-employed and have no employees; or (2) did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25 percent, nor the number of hours for their employees; or (3) experienced reductions in business activity as a result of of the pandemic, and did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25 percent.

— HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO COVID-19 DEATHS IN NURSING HOMES. The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis officially launched an investigation into COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. Click here to read the letter to the CMS.

— SBA REOPENS EIDL AND EIDL ADVANCE PROGRAM. The SBA announced that it has reopened the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance program portal to all eligible applicants experiencing economic impacts due to COVID-19.

— FEDERAL RESERVE TO EXPAND MAIN STREET LENDING PROGRAM TO NONPROFITS. The Federal Reserve announced it will be seeking feedback on a proposal to expand the Main Street Lending Program for nonprofit organizations.

  • The proposal would make loans available to 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(19) organizations with 50 to 15,000 employees, but 501(c)(6)s and nonprofits with endowments larger than $3 billion would not be eligible under the program.

— HHS ANNOUNCES $25 BILLION IN RELIEF FUNDING FOR MEDICAID PROVIDERS, SAFETY NET HOSPITALS. HHS announced the allocation of $25 billion from the Provider Relief Fund, including $15 billion for Medicaid and CHIP providers, as well as $10 billion for safety net hospitals. TRP’s comprehensive analysis of the COVID-19 provider relief fund can be read here.

COVID-19: Federal Update (6/25)

Quick Takes

— HOUSE EYES PASSAGE OF DEMOCRATIC POLICE REFORM EFFORT. The bill is expected to pass along party lines today.

— SENATE MOVES TO NDAA AFTER POLICING BILL STALLS. The upper chamber will likely look to pass the $740 billion annual defense measure prior to the July 4 district work period.

— REPORT: STATE, LOCAL AID NEEDED TO AVERT 4 MILLION LAYOFFS. A new private sector report is warning anew of continuing damage to the economy if Washington doesn’t deliver several hundred billion dollars in budget relief to states and local governments.

— BIPARTISAN SENATORS INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO UPDATE TECH LIABILITY PROTECTIONS. Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced legislation Wednesday to update legal protections for online platforms.

 Capitol Hill Update

— HOUSE EYES PASSAGE OF DEMOCRATIC POLICE REFORM EFFORT. House lawmakers will convene for legislative business today to consider the Democrats’ sweeping package (textsummary) of police reform legislation. The Justice in Policing Act offers several reforms aimed at reducing discrimination and the excessive use of force among police officers, while also boosting transparency, oversight, and accountability over problematic law enforcement agencies. The bill is expected to pass along party lines today. While House Democratic leadership has indicated support for going to conference with the Senate to hammer out a bipartisan agreement, it remains to be seen whether the two sides will be able to bridge the partisan gaps and coalesce behind a comprehensive proposal. For more on the state of play with respect to the Congressional police reform efforts, click here to read TRP’s analysis.

— LOWER CHAMBER TEES UP JULY LEGISLATIVE BLITZ. In addition to the Democrats’ police reform package, the House will consider a rule that will govern debate on several key legislative items over the course of the next few legislative days. This includes: (1) legislation that seeks to stabilize the Affordable Care Act (ACA); (2) a bill that seeks to reform the Fair Credit Reporting Act; (3) a measure that would make Washington, D.C. the 51st state; (4) a Congressional Review Act resolution that seeks to overturn the Trump administration’s regulation pertaining to the Community Reinvestment Act; and (5) an act that seeks to prevent evictions, foreclosures, and unsafe housing conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

— SENATE MOVES TO NDAA AFTER POLICING BILL STALLS. Senators will convene today to wrap up their legislative work week. Following a blocked procedural vote on the Senate GOP’s police reform legislation yesterday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has filed a vote to move onto consideration of the Senate’s fiscal year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (text; summary; report; tables). The upper chamber will likely look to pass the $740 billion annual defense measure prior to the July 4 district work period next week. However, debate on certain amendments — particularly related to renaming bases that honor Confederate military leaders — could push the vote later into July.

Washington Insider: What We’re Reading

Associated Press: Report: State, Local Aid Needed to Avert 4 Million Layoffs

A new private sector report is warning anew of continuing damage to the economy if Washington doesn’t deliver several hundred billion dollars in budget relief to states and local governments amid the coronavirus pandemic. The study warns that doing nothing to address the economic perils of state layoffs and cutbacks could cost 4 million jobs. But it also says that significantly less money is needed than what’s being called for by House Democrats, who passed almost $1 trillion in help for cash-poor states and local governments as part of a sweeping $3.5 trillion rescue package last month.

The Hill: Bipartisan Senators Introduce Legislation to Update Tech Liability Protections

Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced legislation Wednesday to update legal protections for online platforms. The Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act would create a new method for holding the companies accountable by clarifying Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to require companies to give consumers more information about their content moderation policies and let users appeal decisions.

The Hill: Conservation Bill Creates Strange Bedfellows

Environmentalists are rallying around a major conservation bill that derives much of its funding from their archenemy: the fossil fuel industry. The Great American Outdoors Act — passed by the Senate last week and slated for a House vote next month — would dedicate $900 million annually for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Most of that money, however, comes from offshore oil and gas royalties. Conservation advocates say they support the legislation despite the funding source, arguing it puts to good use revenue that is already being collected by the federal government.

The Wall Street Journal: Battered U.S. Wine Importers Brace for Higher Tariffs ($) The U.S. Trade Representative’s office, which imposed 25% tariffs on wine, cheeses, olives and other products from the European Union in October, is now considering raising levies to 100%, citing a lack of progress in negotiating a settlement and eliminating subsidies for Airbus SE. In a public filing, the USTR said it could raise the tariffs on or about Aug. 12, and that it anticipated opening a comment process in late June. Importers, restaurateurs and others who buy European wines say higher tariffs would devastate an industry floored by months of lockdowns.

COVID-19: What We’re Hearing

— ‘CARES 2.0’ STATE OF PLAY. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated that Congress will likely need to pass another round of COVID-19 relief legislation, Republicans are pushing for a more narrowly-targeted relief package following better-than-expected jobs numbers for the month of May, and the White House would prefer to wait and see the June labor numbers before negotiating with Congress in earnest. Conversely, Congressional Democrats are remaining steadfast on their push for another robust stimulus package. As the public health emergency continues to unfold, lawmakers are mulling over several policy options for the next round of legislation, including:

  • Liability. Leader McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) are working on legislation that would limit the liabilities of health care workers, business owners, and employees from lawsuits pertaining to the COVID-19 outbreak. Leader McConnell emphasized that any future COVID-19 relief efforts must include these protections in order for the Senate to consider additional relief legislation.
    • House Democratic leadership appears open to negotiating a deal on liability protections. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) emphasized that these protections must not undermine the health and rights of workers, but indicated that the issue is open for further discussion and negotiation.
  • Unemployment Reform. Senate Republicans are spearheading efforts on reforming the enhanced unemployment benefits so that generous payments approved in the CARES Act don’t become an obstacle to rehiring workers.
    • A key option on the table includes enhancing a tax credit that would give employers a tax break for keeping workers on the payroll.
  • State and Local Governments. Funding for state and local governments is a key pillar of the Democrats’ next stimulus bill. While there is bipartisan agreement that more needs to be done to help stymie economic hardships for these entities, allocating additional funding has become a divisive issue within the Republican conference.
    • It appears likely that some Senate Republicans — particularly those who are up for re-election — would coalesce behind a bipartisan proposal that would provide additional funding and flexibility to address needs at the state and local level.
  • PPP. Following Congressional passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, Lawmakers are eyeing further reforms to the PPP.
    • Prior to Senate passage of H.R. 7010, Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Mike Lee (R-UT) — who had expressed concerns and opposition to the House-passed bill secured a letter from key Small Business Committee members in both chambers clarifying that the intent of the legislation is not to reauthorize the program through the end of the year without additional reforms.
    • Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) have also indicated they are working on a technical change to the legislation that would ensure businesses can have their loans forgiven in some form regardless of whether they reach the 60 percent threshold.
    • Additionally, there has been a bipartisan push in Congress to expand PPP eligibility to 501(c)6 organizations and other currently ineligible nonprofits in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation. 
  • Surprise Billing. Reports out of the Trump administration suggest that the White House will push for action on surprise medical bills ahead of the next round of relief legislation.
    • During the CARES Act negotiations, Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) were actively trying to tack their surprise billing legislation onto the package. 
  • Budget Reform. A bipartisan group of House lawmakers penned a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) calling for provisions that address the federal debt and trust funds for Medicare and Social Security to be included in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation.

APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend the Congressional schedule, lawmakers are adjusting their expectations for consideration of fiscal year (FY) 2021 spending bills.

  • House. Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) officially announced the House Appropriations Subcommittee markup schedule for the week of Jul. 6.
    • Jul. 6: State & Foreign Operations, Agriculture, Military Construction-VA
    • Jul. 7: Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Legislative Branch, Energy-Water, Labor-HHS-Education
    • Jul. 8: Commerce-Science-Justice, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, Financial Services and General Government, Defense.
  • Senate. Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) is delaying the forthcoming markups ahead of the July 4 recess amid partisan disagreements over COVID-19 relief and police reform amendments that Democrats want to offer. 
    • When the Appropriations Committee begins its markup process, appropriators will look to skip subcommittee markups for seven out of the FY 2021 spending bills, going straight to full committee markups instead. Senators on the panel are also expected to vote on the 302(b) funding allocations for each of the 12 bills ahead of the forthcoming markups.

COVID-19 Legislative & Regulatory Trackers

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS…

— HHS LAUNCHES PROGRAM AIMED AT FIGHTING COVID-19 IN MINORITY, RURAL COMMUNITIES. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new three-year, $40 million program with the Morehouse School of Medicine to deliver COVID-19 information to minority and rural communities in an effort to combat the pandemic in these areas.

— CFPB ISSUES INTERIM FINAL RULE ON LOSS MITIGATION OPTIONS FOR HOMEOWNERS. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued an interim final rule that will allow borrowers who have experienced financial hardships due to COVID-19 to delay payments even if they have only a limited amount of information on the homeowner.

— NEW FED EXAMINER GUIDANCE SEEKS TO PROMOTE FLEXIBILITY. The Federal Reserve issued new examiner guidance that seeks to promote consistency and flexibility in the supervision and examination of financial institutions that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

— CMS RELEASES COVID-19 DATA, ISSUES CALL TO ACTION ON VALUE-BASED CARE. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released new data on the COVID-19 outbreak that highlights racial and socioeconomic divides among Medicare beneficiaries who were infected. As a result of this data, the agency is calling for a renewed national commitment to value-based care.

— SBA, TREASURY REACH AGREEMENT ON PPP TRANSPARENCY. The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Treasury Department reached an agreement with Congress to disclose information regarding recipients of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The names of businesses who received loans ranging from $150,000 to $10 million will be disclosed publicly by the federal government.

— SBA LAUNCHES TOOL TO CONNECT BUSINESSES WITH CDFIS AND SMALL ASSET LENDERS. SBA launched an online tool for small businesses and non-profits to be matched with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), Farm Credit System lenders, Microlenders, as well as traditional smaller asset size lenders in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

— CMS ANNOUNCES MEMBERSHIP OF INDEPENDENT CORONAVIRUS COMMISSION ON SAFETY AND QUALITY IN NURSING HOMES. CMS announced the membership of the Independent Coronavirus Commission on Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes.

  • The Commission will conduct an assessment of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in nursing homes and make recommendations on actions and best practices for immediate and future actions.

— HHS TO HOLD WEBINARS ON PROVIDER RELIEF FUND. HHS will hold two webcasts this week for providers to learn more about the application process for the $15 billion Medicaid and CHIP targeted allotment.

— IRS ISSUES GUIDANCE ON CARES TELEHEALTH AND VIRTUAL CARE FLEXIBILITIES. The IRS recently outlined flexibilities and issued guidance addressing the CARES safe harbor provision allowing high deductible health plans (HDHPs) with health savings accounts (HSAs) to cover telehealth and remote care before a patient reaches their deductible. The temporary flexibility applies to services provided on or after Jan. 1, 2020, for plan years beginning on or before Dec. 31, 2021.

— SBA, TREASURY ANNOUNCE NEW AND REVISED FORGIVENESS APPLICATION FOR PPP. The SBA and Treasury Department posted a revised Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgiveness application as mandated by the PPP Flexibility Act.

  • SBA also published a new “EZ version” of the forgiveness application that applies to borrowers that: (1) are self-employed and have no employees; or (2) did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25 percent, nor the number of hours for their employees; or (3) experienced reductions in business activity as a result of of the pandemic, and did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25 percent.

— HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO COVID-19 DEATHS IN NURSING HOMES. The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis officially launched an investigation into COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. Click here to read the letter to the CMS.

— SBA REOPENS EIDL AND EIDL ADVANCE PROGRAM. The SBA announced that it has reopened the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance program portal to all eligible applicants experiencing economic impacts due to COVID-19.

— FEDERAL RESERVE TO EXPAND MAIN STREET LENDING PROGRAM TO NONPROFITS. The Federal Reserve announced it will be seeking feedback on a proposal to expand the Main Street Lending Program for nonprofit organizations.

  • The proposal would make loans available to 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(19) organizations with 50 to 15,000 employees, but 501(c)(6)s and nonprofits with endowments larger than $3 billion would not be eligible under the program.

— HHS ANNOUNCES $25 BILLION IN RELIEF FUNDING FOR MEDICAID PROVIDERS, SAFETY NET HOSPITALS. HHS announced the allocation of $25 billion from the Provider Relief Fund, including $15 billion for Medicaid and CHIP providers, as well as $10 billion for safety net hospitals. TRP’s comprehensive analysis of the COVID-19 provider relief fund can be read here.