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Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines – COVID-19 D.C. Update – July 6, 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:

  • Any negotiations for a Phase Four deal stimulus package are tabled until Congress returns from its two-week recess on July 20.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has suggested the Senate will focus on another coronavirus relief package after the chamber returns, with the goal of passage before the August recess. That period “dovetails nicely with the perfect time, to take an assessment of the economy and the progress we’re making on the health care front and see if there is additional assistance needed for our health care providers, ” McConnell said.  But negotiations are likely to be even more painful in this round, with Republicans and Democrats divided over what to do with billions of dollars in programs that are set to expire at the end of July.  One such program — the extra $600 per week in jobless benefits — has been a financial lifeline for America’s 44 million unemployed, but the two sides can’t agree whether to renew it. In mid-May, the House passed its own recovery package, which would deliver billions in aid to cash-strapped state and local governments, as well as hazard pay for frontline workers, housing and food assistance, and another round of stimulus checks to many Americans.  President Trump said in an interview he’s open to another round of direct payments to Americans.
  • The Trump administration on Monday disclosed the names of many small businesses which received loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that was established as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act.   The full list is available on the Small Business Administration website. Those loans represent nearly three-fourths of total loan dollars approved, but a far smaller proportion of the number of actual loans. About 87 percent of the loans were for less than $150,000, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA).
  • President Trump on Saturday signed an extension of the small business loan Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) into law, according to the White House.  House lawmakers unanimously passed the extension less than a day after the program expired, and PPP will now remain open to applications through August 8.
  • The House Homeland Security Committee is set to hold a hearing on Wednesday to examine the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • U.S. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said he’s pleasantly surprised by the economic recovery so far, citing consumer spending and new housing construction.  He said that the extra $600 unemployment benefit provided by the first major relief package won’t be included in the next round of stimulus
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has been sending furlough notices to roughly 7 in 10 people employed by the agency amid disagreements between the Trump administration and Congress over its request for $1.2 billion in emergency money.  The furloughs – along with preparations to suspend services – could begin on Aug. 3, and last indefinitely.
  • Dr. Stephen Hahn, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, said in a CNN interview that it is “too early to tell” if Jacksonville, Florida, will be able to safely hold the high-profile Republican National Convention events that are planned for Aug. 24-27, given the city’s and state’s rising number of COVID-19 cases.
  • The Trump campaign announced that the president will hold an outdoor rally on Saturday at Portsmouth International Airport in New Hampshire, encouraging supporters to wear face coverings and advising that attendees will have “ample access” to hand sanitizer.

In the News:

  • Florida and Texas hit a record number of daily coronavirus cases on Saturday, respectively reporting 11,445 and 8,258 new cases in the last 24 hours, according to figures released by the states’ health departments. The U.S. reported more than 52,000 new cases as the coronavirus spikes across the South and West.
  • The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 grew by 5 percent or more Sunday in 23 states, based on a seven-day moving average, according to data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project, an independent volunteer organization.  Texas had more than 8,000 people hospitalized with the coronavirus on Sunday, a record high for the state since the beginning of the outbreak.
  • Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of President Trump’s eldest son and a top fund-raising official for the Trump re-election campaign, tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday before a Fourth of July event at Mount Rushmore, a person familiar with her condition said.
  • The biotech company Regeneron announced the late-stage clinical trials of REGN-COV2, a double antibody cocktail for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19, in a news release on Monday.
  • Harvard University is welcoming freshmen and some other students back to campus this fall semester, but students will have to take coronavirus tests every three days, classes will still be taught online and it won’t discount tuition, the school announced Monday.