Coronavirus Update
April 30, 2020
Information and resources on federal responses to the coronavirus crisis for state, local, and regional government.
Federal Response
Both the House and Senate remain on recess this week. The Senate plans to return to Washington on May 4. The House initially planned to return May 4 as well but House leaders delayed the chamber’s return citing potential health risks. Although staffers reportedly are working on the next coronavirus relief package which might include provisions aiding state and local government, Members are unlikely to seriously consider legislation until mid-May. Talk continues regarding an infrastructure stimulus package to help bolster the economy but there is significant opposition at this point. The President has indicated support for a large infrastructure package.

Reminder: The Senate Environment and Public Work Committee is conducting an “ Information-Gathering Process ” on draft water infrastructure legislation. Some commentators told the Committee more funding is needed than is currently included in draft legislation, especially for water agencies, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Stakeholder comments on the legislation are due tomorrow , Friday, May 1 at 4:00 p.m. ET, and should be emailed to QFR@epw.senate.gov .  

Capitol Hill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a press call Tuesday she opposed legislation shielding businesses from legal liability if employees returning to work become ill with coronavirus. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday additional legislation will not move forward without liability protection.

Speaker Pelosi appointed Members to serve on the bipartisan House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. The Committee will provide oversight of the $2 billion CARES Act. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy wrote on Twitter, “Mark my words →  Speaker Pelosi's coronavirus committee is just Impeachment 2.0.”

Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Markey (D-MA), and Rep. Velazquez (D-NY), along with a variety of broadband interest groups pushed for federal funding to ensure internet access is made affordable nationwide in the next coronavirus package.

Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee sent a letter to the Department of the Interior questioning the timeline and criteria for opening parks and public lands following the President’s call to reopen the nation. 

Bills and Letters of Interest

  • Rep. Torres (D-CA), and 76 other Members, sent a letter to congressional leadership advocating that the next COVID-19 stimulus package include survivor benefits and workplace protections for medical personnel. 
  • Rep. Pappas (D-NH) led 83 other lawmakers in a bipartisan letter urging House leaders to address the impacts of industrial PFAS discharge through the infrastructure component of future economic legislation. 
  • Support State and Local Leaders Act, introduced by Rep. Schneider (D-IL), would make states and local governments eligible for the emergency paid leave payroll tax credits. 
  • The Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act, introduced by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), would federalize the medical supply chain related to critical medical equipment such as protective gear and testing supplies.  

Administration. National social distancing guidelines put in place by the Trump Administration expire today. The Administration said it will not be extending the guidelines, but many states plan to keep the restrictions in place.

The FDA is reviewing data on an experimental COVID-19 treatment called remdesivir after positive results emerged from a drug trial conducted by Gilead Sciences. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday that patients who have received the drug recovered from their illness in 11 days while those who received a placebo recovered in 15 days.

The Trump Administration announced the launch of “Operation Warp Speed” aimed at accelerating vaccine development. Sources report the goal of having 100 million vaccine doses available by the end of 2020 is likely to cost billions of dollars.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) approved over $52 billion in funds on Tuesday after it reopened with newly appropriated funds from Congress. SBA reported that the average loan size in the second round was down $111,000 compared with the $207,000 which was distributed in the first round, according to The Hill . The SBA limited access to the program for eight hours on Wednesday to allow only banks, credit unions, and community financial instructions with $1 billion or less in assets to apply through the PPP.

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said the Trump Administration will audit every company that receives an emergency coronavirus loan from the SBA greater than $2 million. The program received widespread criticism because several large companies were able to retain financing even though the program is aimed at assisting small businesses.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell urged Congress to unleash “greater fiscal power” to defeat COVID-19 and recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic. Powell also encouraged lawmakers to take advantage of the low interest rates to strengthen the economy.

The Federal Reserve Board announced an expansion of the scope and duration of the Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF), which will offer up to $500 billion in lending to states and municipalities to help manage COVID-19 related financial strain. The change included lowering the population thresholds for the program. The county threshold was lowered from 2 million to 500,000 and the city threshold was lowered from 1 million to 250,000. The program was also extended from September 30 to December 31. 
Advocacy
NACo launched a “We Are Counties” social media campaign that will highlight the service of county hospital workers, law enforcement officials, first responders, and other frontline workers. NACo states “The campaign comes at a time when America’s counties are facing at least a $144 billion budget impact as a result of skyrocketing costs and plummeting revenues. Counties are urging federal support for counties’ vast health, safety and economic recovery responsibilities, many of which are mandated by states and the federal government.”


ICMA held a webinar on “Budgeting During a Crisis,” which discusses the first principles for budgeting during the pandemic and case studies from local governments.

USCM held a video call with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal on April 29 to discuss the constraints impacting city government budgets due to COVID-19.  
News and Resources
A group of 16 health experts, including a former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner and former acting administrator of the CDC, sent a letter to Congress call for $46.5 billion to expand contact tracing in order to safely reopen the country.

The New York Times published a map outlining reopening status state-by-state.  
Federal Agency Intergovernmental Contacts
Primary points of contact at federal agencies can be found below:

For more information please contact Zachary Israel zisrael@tfgnet.com (202) 256-4386