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Focus on Regulation

Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines – COVID-19 D.C. Update – June 15, 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:

  • On Saturday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said that the White House is targeting a phase four stimulus package focusing on American manufacturing that will be “at least $2 trillion dollars.”  On CNN he said, certain service-oriented industries like entertainment, hospitality, and transportation have especially been hurt because of COVID-19.  “The only way to fully rebuild the economy in the face of those headwinds is to significantly expand and strengthen our manufacturing base. Put simply, we need to create more manufacturing jobs.  They provide good wages but also create more jobs both up- and downstream through multiplier effects.”  Efforts seem to be focused around the President’s two simple rules — Buy American, Hire American — along with incentives for American companies to bring offshored jobs back home.
  • Chairman Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and Democratic members of the House Select Subcommittee on Coronavirus Crisis on Monday sent letters to the Treasury Department, the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the chief executives of eight national banks demanding they hand over information about businesses that obtained loans through the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  The letters say the committee members are investigating whether PPP “has favored large, well-funded companies over struggling small businesses in underserved communities — contrary to Congress’ clear intent.”  The request came after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week said the administration refuses to disclose the recipients of the PPP’s nearly 4.6 million loans––even though the PPP loan application told borrowers their information would be released.   On Monday, Mnuchin tweeted that he will talk with the Senators and others on a “bipartisan basis” about striking a balance between protecting the privacy of recipients of small business loans and ensuring proper oversight of the funds.
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will deliver a cautionary message about the U.S. economy and COVID-19 when he appears twice on Capitol Hill this week. His remarks are expected to echo the downbeat assessment he gave June 10 highlighting the hardships faced by millions of Americans who’ve lost work.  White House economic director Larry Kudlow, said on CNN on June 15 that “there is a very good chance you are going to get the V-shaped recovery. 2021 is going to be another solid, solid year.”
  • On Friday, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai with concerns over “a lack of transparency” about the agency’s use of funds for its COVID-19 Telehealth Program, pointing to reports that health care providers are facing issues obtaining funds.
  • Public health experts are growing increasingly worried that the White House will pressure regulators to approve the first coronavirus vaccine candidate to show promise without proof that it provides effective, reliable protection against the virus.  Drugmakers and health agencies have already begun rewriting the rules of vaccine research, launching candidates into clinical trials at record speed.  Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn denied that political pressure has influenced his agency’s coronavirus response.  He said, “under no circumstances will the FDA allow political pressure to affect our decision-making and, importantly, that has not occurred on my watch.”
  • U.S. Rep. Tom Rice announced Monday that he, his wife, and son have tested positive for COVID-19.  In a Facebook post, he said he and his family are “on the mend and doing fine.”
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday withdrew emergency use authorizations for two coronavirus treatments that the President has touted, including hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in response to a request by the acting director of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Gary Disbrow.  FDA chief scientist Denise Hinton said in a letter that after reviewing new information from large clinical trials the agency believes that the drugs “are unlikely to produce an antiviral effect.”

In the News:

  • More than 2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the U.S., and more than 115,000 Americans have died from the disease.  Nearly 800 Americans are still dying each day.
  • Governor Andrew Cuomo warned New Yorkers against triggering a second wave of the coronavirus, singling out bars and restaurants in Manhattan and the Hamptons as the worst offenders among 25,000 complaints filed to the state.  He said he would reimpose shutdowns if businesses failed to comply with current restrictions and people didn’t socially distance.
  • Houston opened to 75 percent capacity on Friday, but it may not last long. Officials are cautioning that they may need to order people back home and open a COVID-19 hospital at NRG Stadium, a football complex, as coronavirus cases surge in the nation’s fourth-largest city.
  • For the first time since tracking began, the number of coronavirus cases in Alabama grew by more than 1,000 in a day.  South Carolina recorded nearly 800 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, raising the state’s seven-day average for the 17th day straight.  Cases in North Carolina continued to climb Sunday at near-record numbers with 1,443 new COVID-19 cases.  Washington State Governor Jay Inslee said the report shows that “cases and deaths will soon increase substantially if COVID-19 continues to spread at the current levels.”  Florida recorded its “second-largest single-day total” in positive tests at 2,016.
  • Stock futures and international indexes fell, as investors questioned whether fresh outbreaks of the new coronavirus could hold back global economic recovery.  S&P 500 stock futures fell about 3 percent and Dow futures lost 3.5 percent.
  • Borders opened up across Europe on Monday after three months of coronavirus closures that began chaotically in March. But many restrictions persist, it’s unclear how keen Europeans will be to travel this summer and the continent is still closed to Americans, Asians and other international tourists.
  • Coronavirus cases are growing faster than ever in Mexico, Chile, and Argentina, while Peru posted its deadliest day yet and a new study showed the virus may be far more widespread in Brazil than official data suggests.