Coronavirus Update
April 16, 2020
Information and resources on federal responses to the coronavirus crisis for towns and townships
Federal Response
Capitol Hill. Discussions continue between Democrats, Republicans, and the White House on the next coronavirus relief package. Capitol Hill and the White House are under pressure to come to an agreement now that funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is depleted. Republicans still want to limit legislative action on adding an additional $251 billion to the PPP while Democrats continue to push for more funding for hospitals, state and local governments, and the SNAP program, in addition to the increased funding for the PPP. Democrats also want changes to the PPP to ensure the program does not favor larger businesses with more established relationships with lenders. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has indicated the House may vote as early as tomorrow on the Democrats’ proposal, the Interim Emergency COVID-19 Relief Act. However, without agreement with Republicans, the legislation is expected to stall.  

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), along with Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), sent a letter to Secretary of HHS Alex Azar calling on the Administration to quickly allocate the remainder of the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund enacted in the CARES Act to the healthcare providers on the front lines of the outbreak. In addition, Senate Democrats have unveiled a plan to provide $30 billion in emergency funding to increase testing and administer same-day testing results on COVID-19 tests. 

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and House Democrats introduced a bill that would provide federal assistance to cover the full cost of COBRA premiums for workers or the full cost of health insurance premiums owed by workers who are furloughed or experience layoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Rep. TJ Cox (D-CA) led a bipartisan letter urging House and Senate leadership to make state and local governments eligible for emergency paid family and sick leave payroll tax credits.  NATaT was one of the endorsing organizations .

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that the Senate will not be returning to Washington sooner than May 4, in line with the House’s expected return. 

Administration. FEMA published a funding notice for an additional $100 million in supplemental Emergency Management Performance Grant Program funds. Local governments are eligible for funding through the program as sub-awardees. All applications must be submitted by states no later than April 28

The Trump Administration created a draft public health strategy to combat COVID-19 and finalize plans to reopen parts of the country. The strategy provides guidance to state and local governments on how to ease mitigation efforts and phase out stay-at-home orders to support a safe reopening. President Trump may announce the final strategy as early as today, April 16.

The Census Bureaus temporarily suspended 2020 Census field operations in March, but the Bureau hopes to reactive field offices beginning June 1. The Bureau is asking Congress for statutory relief of 120 days to deliver final apportionment counts. The Bureau would extend the window for field data collection and self-response to October 31, delivering apportionment counts to the President by April 31, 2021.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced information on the $10 billion in funds to be awarded as economic relief to airports affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the CARES Act.

DHHS began delivering the first $30 billion in relief funds to providers in support of the response to COVID-19 as part of the distribution of the $100 billion provider relief fund provided in the CARES Act. Additionally, the Administration for Children and Families has announced plans to release the $3.5 billion included in the bill for the Child Care and Development Block, and $90 million for the 518 Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.

A top Treasury Department official said yesterday the goal is to release additional guidance on the Coronavirus Relief Fund on Friday, April 17.
Advocacy
Discussions are ongoing regarding the best mechanisms for distributing coronavirus funds. The National League of Cities (NLC) and the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) have advocated for the use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) structure to distribute relief funds. While the National Association of Counties (NACo) is seeking to modify the traditional CDBG formula to allocate based on the severity of the public health crisis rather than economic development before distributing emergency funds. USCM and NACo have each sent letters to congressional leadership advocating for their position. 

News and Resources
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched the Save Small Business Fund , in collaboration with VistaPrint, to provide assistance to small businesses in the form of $5,000 grants. The program addresses small businesses' immediate needs, including the mitigation of closures and job losses.

The IRS has a “ Get My Paymen t ” portal to check on the status of your economic impact payment, which was included as part of the CARES Act.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a report titled, “ The Coronavirus Relief Fund (CARES Act, Title V): Background and State and Local Allocations .” 
Federal Agency Intergovernmental Contacts
Primary points of contact at federal agencies can be found below:

For more information please contact NATaT Federal Director Jennifer Imo at jimo@tfgnet.com or 202.454.3947.