Coronavirus Update
April 23, 2020
Information and resources on federal responses to towns and townships
Federal Response
The Senate passed a $483.4 billion economic relief measure on Tuesday that would replenish the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which ran out of funding last week, and provide additional funding to hospitals facing financial shortfalls due to COVID-19. The bill will be voted on in the House today, April 23. It does not include funding for states and localities, but the Trump Administration has said that more funding for local governments could be included in the next round of relief aid. 

On Wednesday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the next round of relief needs to focus on states and local governments. Calling upcoming legislation the “Heroes Act,” Pelosi said “we (need) this assistance to state, county and local government, and to do so in a significant way. To recognize the lost revenue that they have from a lack of a stream of revenue because of the economy, and secondly the outlays that they make in order to address the coronavirus tragedy.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday he “would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route” to deal with unbalanced budgets due to coronavirus and decreased revenues. He also said further relief funding legislation will have to wait until lawmakers return to Washington (the week of May 4, at the earliest). "I think the next debate, which I assume will relate to state and local government relief, needs to be when the Senate is back in session with full participation.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted in response, “ Our states are united. America's governors—Democrats and Republicans—are demanding help. Firefighters, police, sanitation workers, teachers, and more will be laid off if you ignore them. Stop being political. Wake up to the problem.” In addition, President Trump tweeted earlier this week that, “ After I sign this Bill, we will begin discussions on the next Legislative Initiative with fiscal relief…to State/Local Governments for lost revenues from COVID 19, much needed Infrastructure Investments for Bridges, Tunnels, Broadband, Tax Incentives for Restaurants, Entertainment, Sports, and Payroll Tax Cuts to increase Economic Growth.”

According to Sen. Schumer , Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said earlier this week he supports looking at providing support to states and local governments as part of the next round of relief efforts. Mnuchin has also stated that the Administration is “sensitive to the economic impacts of putting on debt,” in the face of future economic relief packages. 

Capitol Hill. The House is expected to vote today on the new House Oversight Select Investigative Subcommittee called the “ Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis ,” which will be chaired by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC). 

Speaker Pelosi is letting go of a plan that would have amended House rules to allow remote voting and committee work during the extent of the pandemic. House Majority Leader Hoyer (D-MD) previously called on Congress to identify secure ways to conduct committee working and voting remotely, while House Republican Leader McCarthy (R-CA) voiced strong opposition to such changes.  

The Senate Environment and Public Work Committee (EPW) is conducting an “Information-Gathering Process” on draft water infrastructure legislation. Commentators told the Committee that more funding is needed than is currently included in draft legislation, especially for water agencies due to the coronavirus pandemic. Diane VanDe Hei, CEO of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies stated the pandemic has already devastated drinking water systems and is projected to reduce total revenue by $13.9 billion. VanDe Hei noted nearly $5 billion of that sum will come from losses from increased customer delinquencies, with an additional $500 million reduction coming from utilities that decided to halt water service shutoffs for nonpayment during the public health emergency. All stakeholders are invited to provide written comments on the legislation, which will be accepted until Friday, May 1 at 4:00 p.m. ET, and should be emailed to QFR@epw.senate.gov .  

Bills and Letters of Interest
  • Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) letter urging the importance of the maintenance of effort provisions included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to protect Medicaid coverage for families. 
  • Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) letter requesting that state-legal and indirect cannabis small businesses are allowed access to SBA emergency loan and grant programs. 
  • Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin seeking guidance on how state and local governments can use funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
  • Coronavirus Relief for States Act, introduced by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Joe Morelle (D-NY). 
  • Undertaking National Initiatives to Tackle Epidemic Act (UNITE Act), introduced by Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA). 

Administration. Yesterday the Treasury Department published guidance for state, territorial, local, and tribal governments on the use of funds under the Coronavirus Relief Fund. The final guidance clarifies that the Fund may only be used to cover costs that are necessary expenditures incurred from March 1, 2020 to December 30, 2020 with respect to the pandemic; and were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27 for the state or government. The Guidance clarifies the Fund may not be used to cover lost revenue. Treasury also published a FAQ document on the guidance, which explains that “States receiving a payment [may] transfer funds to a local government [with populations under 500,000], provided that the transfer qualifies as a necessary expenditure incurred due to the public health emergency and meets the other criteria.” 

The Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) released the COVID-19 Healthcare Workforce Toolkit to help state and local healthcare decision makers maximize workforce flexibilities when facing the pandemic. CMS also released guidance on additional blanket waivers for long-term care hospitals, rural health clinics, federally qualified health centers, and intermediate care facilities. 
News and Resources
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) established a Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) resources page .

National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) provides resources for city governments and transit agencies related to the COVID-19 response.  
Federal Agency Intergovernmental Contacts
Primary points of contact at federal agencies can be found below:

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