Coronavirus Update
April 6, 2020
Information and resources on federal responses to the coronavirus crisis for towns and townships.
Federal Response
Capitol Hill. Over the weekend, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a letter to all members of Congress urging the importance of a “CARES 2 package,” to extend and expand on the recently passed CARES Act. In her letter, Speaker Pelosi wrote that the CARES 2 package must “go further” to assist small businesses, farmers, unemployment benefits and to give additional direct payments. Pelosi also said the next bill might not include a significant infrastructure funding component – a departure from previous statements. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has also stated there will be a fourth coronavirus bill and that health care should be a top priority as Congress moves to draft the legislation.

The Congressional Budget Office had a busy week. CBO sent a letter on April 2 to the Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee Nita Lowey (D-NY) that includes the preliminary estimate of the budgetary effects of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act specifically to state and local governments. CBO estimates that state and local governments will spend a total of about $20 billion over FY 2020 and 2021 to comply with new FMLA rules while not being eligible for federal assistance via tax credits which are available to businesses. The Department of Labor established April 1 as the effective date for the two new paid leave programs. The framework for the CBO estimates is detailed in a January 2, 2020, CRS report . NATaT drafted a memo on COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick and FMLA Programs, which will be uploaded on the NATaT Coronavirus Website .

In addition, CBO updated its economic forecast on April 2 to account for the economic impacts of the coronavirus. CBO notes its economic projections, especially for later periods, are highly uncertain at this time. The following are CBO’s very preliminary estimates, which are based on information about the economy and which include the effects of an economic boost from recently enacted legislation.
  • Gross domestic product to decline by more than 7 percent during the second quarter with a possible projected decline in the annualized growth rate exceeding 28 percent.
  • Unemployment rate to exceed 10 percent during the second quarter.
  • Interest rates on 10 year T-Notes below 1 percent during the second quarter

Last week Pelosi indicated there may be an attempt in the next bill to address the deduction cap on state and local taxes (SALT); we are tracking this closely. According to Roll Call , Pelosi told the New York Times she wants to retroactively repeal the SALT cap for both 2018 and 2019.

Reps. Andy Levin (D-MI), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), and Joe Neguse (D-CO) led a bipartisan letter signed by 128 House Members and sent to Speaker Pelosi requesting the future COVID-19 response packages include stabilization funding specifically for localities with populations under 500,000. 

Administration. The White House has set up a hotline for members of Congress to expedite action on emergency coronavirus issues as they sprout up across the country.

DOL has published two guidance letters, the Unemployment Insurance Guidance Letter 15-20 and Unemployment Insurance Program Letter 16-20 . The first provides guidance to states to administer an additional $600 weekly payment to certain eligible individuals who are receiving other benefits. The second provides guidance to states for individuals who do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation, such as self-employed workers, independent contractors, and gig workers
Advocacy
NATaT created a survey for our members to record the expected fiscal impact from the pandemic. Please complete the survey by 12:00 PM EST on Friday, April 10th.

NACo sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin requesting further clarification on the Coronavirus Relief Fund and to offer NACo’s understanding and interpretation of the law as it relates to the Fund.
News and Resources
The Small Businesses Association opened applications for its key assistance program from the last coronavirus response bill last Friday, but the launch of the $349 billion program was filled with technical difficulties on the first day. 

Nine states have yet to enact stay-at-home orders: 
  • Arkansas
  • Iowa
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Wyoming
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