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Focus on Regulation

Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines – COVID-19 D.C. Update – June 9, 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:

  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday said that President Trump is “open” to another coronavirus stimulus package and that he still wants a payroll tax cut, which many Republicans do not support.  The broad parameters for a new bill would likely include money for states, some form of unemployment aid, and more money for health care.  Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) is pushing a proposal to subsidize businesses to expand their payroll and has talked with Democrats about it.  Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to pass new relief legislation before the July 4 holiday.  He said, “I fear that the recent bump in the employment number, caused in large part because of the stimulus money we pumped into the economy, will create in Republicans a sense of complacency and the economy will get even worse.”  Senate GOP remains noncommittal on the timing and substance of the next piece of legislation.  Bipartisan talks still haven’t begun in earnest and the White House and senior Republican senators say they won’t start until July.  Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) said, “end of July … is frankly my sense of when I think we’ll have all the information we need to put the next bill together. And it might be about the time when all of the money from the [previous] bills has been spent.” 
  • Public health advocates say that decades of cuts in public health funding have crumbled the nation’s public health infrastructure, leaving health departments without the tools and the people they needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.  House appropriators who oversee the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expressed interest in securing long-term funding for the CDC as they continue to work on virus response bills.  The agency has received $7.5 billion in supplemental funding since March, Labor-HHS Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said. That amount was a $0.6 billion increase from 2019.  Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK) said the budget agreement reached before the pandemic no longer applies.
  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney is self-quarantining after feeling ‘unwell,’ and is awaiting COVID-19 test results.
  • Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) released a white paper entitled “Preparing for the Next Pandemic” which lays out strategies for legislation he plans to draft and hopes the Senate will consider this year to address future pandemics.

In the News:

  • The World Bank estimates the coronavirus pandemic will shrink the global economy by 5.2 percent in 2020,  the worst recession since World War II.  
  • The U.S. meat industry could face losses of more than $20 billion in 2020 due to the coronavirus. The pandemic has caused two major disruptions to the meat supply chain, including shifting consumer behaviors including restaurant and school closures, and  shuttering many plants due to the high rate of infection among processing plant workers. 
  • The U.S. could slide into a second coronavirus-induced recession this year if Washington does not pass additional economic relief measures, according to Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi.  During an interview with Fox Business, Zandi said of policymakers “I don’t think they can sit back and say, ‘Oh, the recovery is now underway and we don’t have to do anything more.’  If they don’t, the odds of going back into a recession this year are pretty high.”
  • World Health Organization (WHO) Outbreak Investigation Task Force leader Maria Van Kerkhove today clarified comments that the organization recently made after reviewing contact tracing data and  saying that asymptomatic transmission of the coronavirus is “very rare.” Kerkhove says that much is still unknown about the virus but clarified that there is a difference between asymptomatic and presymptomatic individuals and asymptomatic carriers do take part in spreading the coronavirus.  
  • Stocks slipped sharply Tuesday as investors took some money off the table following a comeback rally that had pushed the S&P 500 into positive territory.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 400 points lower, or about 1.5 percent. That decline put the 30-stock average on pace to snap a six-day winning streak. The S&P 500 slid 1.1 percent while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.4 percent. 
  • AstraZeneca advanced on another front in the COVID-19 battle, signing a deal with two U.S. government agencies and Vanderbilt University to develop antibodies that could both prevent and treat the disease.
  • Price gouging of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been a significant issue during the pandemic.  Manufacturing company 3M is suing an Amazon seller for selling the company’s N-95 masks at nearly 20 times the market value amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Top manufacturers of generic drugs are urging leaders in Washington to negotiate an international agreement with allies to ensure adequate supplies of pharmaceuticals during the next public health crisis, rather than try to bring all drug production back to the U.S.  The vice president of trade and international affairs at the Association for Accessible Medicines Jonathan Kimball told Politico “It’s clear that the United States, like really any country, can’t be fully dependent on medicines made within its own borders.”
  • Fewer than half the states are following federal recommendations to report probable novel coronavirus cases and deaths, marking what experts say is an unusual break with public health practices that leads to inconsistent data collection and undercounts of the disease’s impact.
  • More than 136,000 people tested positive for the coronavirus across the globe on Sunday.  World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of confirmed cases is rising rapidly in South America and South Asia, which accounted for three-quarters of Sunday’s new cases.