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Focus on Regulation

Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines – COVID-19 D.C. Update – May 12, 2020

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

In Washington:

  • House Democrats today unveiled the text of their massive $3 trillion “Phase 4” coronavirus stimulus package.  H.R. 6800, the “Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act” or the “The Heroes Act. The House is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. on Friday, May 15 to consider the legislation.  In addition, the House is expected to vote on a Rule change related to committee’s authority to work remotely and allow proxy voting.  The 1,815-page bill includes a multitude of Democratic priorities that were left out of previous relief bills, including almost $1 trillion for state, local, territorial and tribal governments, hazard pay for essential workers, and $10 billion to cover the cost of increases in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  The bill also includes another round of direct payments that can range from $1,200 to individuals and $6,000 to households.  The legislation strengthens the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) by expanding loans eligibility to more companies and nonprofits and answered calls to prevent the SBA from limiting a portion of the loans that can be spent on non-payroll costs if borrowers want the loans forgiven. The bill also increases the time for borrowers to spend the loan funds from 8 weeks to 24 weeks.
    • For a one-page summary, please click here.
    • For a section-by-section summary, please click here.
    • For a one-page summary on the state and local relief provisions, please click here.
    • For a summary of small business provisions, please click here.
    • For a summary of changes to the PPP program, please click here.
  • Senate Republicans are in no rush to move forward with the next stimulus package, meaning a deal is unlikely to come together until June.  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “I’m in constant communication with the White House and if we decide to go forward we’ll go forward together.  We have not yet felt the urgency of acting immediately.  That time could develop, but I don’t think it has yet.”
  • As President Trump pushes to quickly reopen the economy, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, testified today before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that reopening the country prematurely could have “really serious” consequences if states don’t have the capability to respond to new coronavirus infections.  Fauci repeatedly issued warnings and information that were in contrast to the eager messaging the President has been presenting the public in the past few weeks.   Fauci, joined by CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, and FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, testifying remotely in the Committee’s hearing on how to have U.S. citizens back to work and school safely.  Fauci recommended following the Federal guidelines on reopening and warned that ignoring these guidelines could lead to “needless suffering” and a “real risk” of triggering an outbreak that cities and states will not be able to control, as well as additional economic setbacks.  Bloomberg breaks down the key takeaways HERE. 
  • The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, chaired by Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC), will hold its first briefing tomorrow with a bipartisan group of key experts on the requirements for safely reopening our nation during the coronavirus pandemic. The panelists participating in the briefing have put forward plans to guide federal and state efforts to safely reopen the country, including the AEI Plan, the Hopkins Plan, the Harvard Plan, and the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy Plan.
  • The Department of Transportation today announced that it would allow covered air carriers to further reduce service to some points in response to some airlines being forced to fly near-empty planes.
  • The Food and Drug Administration has provided new guidance to help drug companies in the development of medicines that can treat or prevent coronavirus infections. The FDA is “strongly” recommending that those drugs be evaluated in randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trials.  It is also providing measures that drug developers should use to prove the success of their treatments.
  • After two staffers tested positive for COVID-19, the White House ordered all West Wing employees to wear masks, unless they are sitting at their desks.  During Monday’s press briefing, President Trump said he ordered the change.  The New York Times reports that officials said the new requirement was not expected to apply to the President or to Vice President Mike Pence.  The White House also said that the Vice President will “maintain distance” from the President for the “immediate future.”
  • President Trump at Monday’s press briefing says he’s “not even a little bit” interested in renegotiating the U.S.-China “Phase 1” trade deal.   It comes after a Chinese state-run newspaper reported some government advisers in Beijing were urging fresh talks and possibly invalidating the agreement.
  • In signs that Republican Senators are moving on in their legislative agenda, a Senate Armed Services Committee aide speculated that the Senate could pass its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) before the Fourth of July holiday.  POLITICO reported Monday that the GOP-controlled Committee planned to mark up its version of the bill the week of June 8.

In the News:

  • Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) issued an executive order Tuesday, delaying Northern Virginia’s reopening until at least May 29, two weeks after the rest of the state. The order allows specific localities in the northern part of the state to delay entering Phase One of the “Forward Virginia” plan to ease restrictions on certain business operations.  It comes after regional officials in the heavily-populated part of the state warned that they are not yet ready to reopen.
  • In Washington, D.C. cases of COVID-19 are climbing steadily with at least 6,389 cases and 328 deaths, a higher rate than in most U.S. states.
  • Republican support for limiting trade with other countries has increased since the start of the year, coinciding with the coronavirus pandemic, according to a POLITICO weekly tracking poll conducted by the Democracy Fund, a nonpartisan group, and UCLA.  It found 47 percent of Republicans surveyed said they supported limited trade with other countries, as opposed to 22 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of Independent voters. Overall 33 percent of all Americans agree with limiting trade.
  • The nation’s largest mall owner, Simon Property Group, announced that it plans to have about 50 percent of its malls reopened within the next week.  During a phone call, Simon executives said they are preparing to reopen in areas that are loosening restrictions. Simon owns about 200 malls and outlet centers in the country and has reopened 77 properties so far.
  • President Trump backed Elon Musk’s calls to reopen Tesla’s California plant, tweeting “California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW. It can be done Fast & Safely!”  Musk has been pushing to resume its California production, but local officials have advocated against swift attempts to return.
  • Twitter has told its employees that when it opens its offices in the early fall, its employees can decide whether they’d like to return or work from home “forever.”