Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of May 4, 2020  
  
Congressional Outlook

The Senate is in session this week, while the House is still in recess due to concerns about returning to the Capitol (however, the chamber will be holding pro forma sessions on Tuesday and Friday, with no votes expected). Senators and their offices have been advised to follow health guidelines from the Office of the Attending Physician. The guidelines encourage, but do not require, masks, and suggest spreading workers out and changing office layouts to allow for distancing, along with other guidelines.
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has scheduled a vote for Monday on the confirmation of Robert Feitel to be Inspector General of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. McConnell's office said last week that the Senate may also hold floor votes on "mission-critical Covid-19 nominees" as well as national security-related nominees. The Senate may also vote on the House-passed USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020 (H.R. 6172), which overhauls and reauthorizes certain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authorities through December 1, 2023.
 
Senators are returning to Washington as lawmakers remain far apart on a deal on a potential fifth coronavirus relief bill, with several high-ranking GOP senators signaling that they do not expect a quick agreement as they work to fine tune the implementation of the CARES Act. Leader McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) are demanding that the next bill include greater liability protections for employers, as businesses pressure Congress to pass new language over concerns that they could be sued as they start to reopen. McConnell has warned that it is his 'red line" and that the Senate will not pass a bill without it, even as the idea has received a lukewarm reception from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). President Trump also said on Sunday that he would not support a fifth COVID-19 relief bill unless it includes a payroll tax cut, a measure that has muted support among lawmakers in Congress.
 
Meanwhile, Democrats are calling for significant aid for state and local governments that have been hit hard by the virus as their top priority for the next bill, with Speaker Pelosi floating that they could need roughly $1 trillion. However, some GOP senators are wary about providing more help to state and local governments beyond the $150 billion passed as part of the CARES Act's Coronavirus Relief Fund. And the caucus is still divided over whether to give states and localities more flexibility on how they are able to use the money already passed by Congress, including if they should allow it to be used for revenue replacement.  
 
While senators continue to hash out their negotiating positions, several Senate committees are meeting this week for markups, hearings, and roundtables, including: an Environment and Public Works markup of the draft America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 and Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020; a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs roundtable on "COVID-19: How New Information Should Drive Policy"; a Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on "The State of the Aviation Industry: Examining the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic"; a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing on "Shark Tank: New Tests for COVID-19"; an Intelligence nomination hearing for Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) to be Director of National Intelligence; and a Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs nomination hearing for Brian Miller to be Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery and Dana Wade to be HUD's Assistant Secretary for Housing. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education will also be holding an in-person hearing on the "COVID-19 Response".
 
NATaT has created a Coronavirus Guidance webpage to store NATaT letters, memos and briefs on the outbreak, as well as critical information and guidance released by Congress and the Administration. 
Week in Review