Tomorrow (July 16) is the deadline for submitting comments on the Treasury Department’s Interim Final Rule implementing the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. Click here for more information and to browse or submit comments.
President Biden’s economic stimulus strategy is gaining momentum after Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee and White House officials agreed Tuesday evening to a $3.5 trillion spending target for a Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget reconciliation package, which will include most of President Biden’s proposed $1.8 trillion American Families Plan and elements of the $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan that are not included in the eight-year, $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (which includes $579 billion in new spending). Together, the reconciliation package and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework would bring the total new spending on infrastructure, climate, childcare, education, and paid family leave programs to $4.1 trillion.
It was not immediately clear if House Democrats would support the package, even if all Senate Democrats get behind it, but House lawmakers have said they would likely follow the Senate’s lead. In a statement yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled support by saying, “This budget agreement is a victory for the American people, making historic, once-in-a-generation progress for families across the nation. The Senate budget will contain many of House Democrats’ top priorities, including transformative action on the investments needed to confront the climate crisis, to transform the care economy, and to expand access to health care with enhancements to ACA, Medicare and closing the Medicaid coverage gap.”
The next step will be to get buy-in from the full Democratic Caucus on the spending and revenue targets so the Senate Budget Committee can draft its FY 2022 budget resolution. That document will provide instructions to various Senate and House committees to draft the implementing legislation, based on the topline budgetary agreement struck Tuesday. Once the budget resolution is adopted by both chambers, Democrats can bring to the floor a reconciliation bill that can pass with simple majorities in both chambers, likely in September or October. Senate Democrats say the reconciliation package will be fully paid for, but it is not clear how many of their pay-fors will actually raise revenue or cut spending.
Meanwhile, the bipartisan group of 22 senators who reached the $579 billion Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework agreement with President Biden continue to work to finalize the actual details of the agreement. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), the lead Republican negotiator, said “about half” of the outstanding issues were resolved last night, but a “couple dozen” remain. The goal, he said, is to resolve the remaining issues by today and work on drafting the legislation over the weekend (Bloomberg Government).
According to Punchbowl News, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced this morning he expects to file cloture on the bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill on Monday, July 19, in an effort to bring the infrastructure bill to the floor as soon as possible. The cloture vote on the motion to proceed would be Wednesday, July 21, and then 30 hours of debate before a vote on the motion to proceed. Leader Schumer is also setting next Wednesday as a deadline for Democrats to agree on the budget resolution with reconciliation instructions.
On July 7, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urging the Treasury Department to provide flexibility in its Final Rule for the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to allow state and local governments the ability to use the Funds to help close the digital divide and ensure families can afford broadband. Sen. Van Hollen wrote, “The Department should clarify in the rules that eligible projects are not required to solely provide service to unserved and underserved locations and that if a jurisdiction lacks unserved or underserved areas, that jurisdiction may still use funds for broadband infrastructure… The Department should not limit localities to the Federal Communication Commission’s … definition of ‘served’ because the data used by the FCC is deeply-flawed… In addition, the FCC’s definition of ‘served’ does not include affordability.”
On July 14, nine House Democrats who are members of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, sent a letter to Congressional leaders calling for the establishment of a bipartisan Commission to assess the United States’ preparation for and response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the origins of the COVID-19 virus in China. The Commission’s investigation into the origins of the virus “would complement the work of the intelligence community, which was recently directed by President Biden to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information to reach a more definitive conclusion on the origins of COVID-19.”
On July 14, the House Science Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight held a hearing on “Principles for Outbreak Investigation: COVID-19 and Future Infectious Diseases.” The hearing included witnesses from the four corners of outbreak investigation: microbiology, virology, epidemiology and zoonotics, and focused on learning about how best to investigate the origins of COVID so that the U.S. can prepare for future disease outbreaks.
On July 14, the Chairs of the House Oversight Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis and Small Business Committee sent a letter to SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman requesting documents and information on how the SBA sought to prevent personnel from enabling fraud in the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.
The White House urged cities to use coronavirus funds to combat crime.
IRS announced it will issue another round of refunds this week to nearly 4 million taxpayers who overpaid their taxes on unemployment compensation received last year. Also, the IRS child tax credit online eligibility tool is now available in Spanish.
The Department of Education (DoED) released more than $3 billion to support infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and adds to the ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief allocation of $122 billion in state funding for K-12 schools. DoED also invited states to complete the application for their share of the second disbursement under the ARP’s Homeless Children and Youth Fund. The distribution of the remaining $600 million will give states and school districts access to funding before the beginning of the school year. DoED released an FAQ on “Using American Rescue Plan Funding to Support Full-Service Community Schools & Related Strategies.”
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the closure of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) after awarding the program’s full $28.6 billion appropriation to more than 100,000 restaurants, bars, and other businesses that provide on-site food and drink.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided over $606 million to more than 91,000 people to assist with COVID-19-related funeral costs for deaths occurring on or after January 20, 2020.
EPA announced that it will make $50 million in ARP funding available to improve air quality monitoring in communities, building on the agency’s recent announcement of $50 million for environmental justice projects under the ARP.
DOJ announced a California man was arrested Thursday on criminal charges related to his alleged scheming to secure over $8 million in fraudulent loans via the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan relief funds. DOJ also announced the arrest of a California woman for her alleged scheme to sell homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets and to falsify COVID-19 vaccination cards by making it appear that customers had received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Moderna vaccine. And a Wisconsin man was sentenced to 36 months in prison for fraudulently seeking over $600,000 in PPP loans
The U.S. Conference of Mayors, including 369 mayors from all 50 states, sent a letter to Congress urging immediate action on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework announced by President Biden and a group of Senators. The letter urges that no funding previously signed into law to help cities address health, public safety and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic be “clawed back,” repurposed, or redirected to help pay for new investments in America’s infrastructure.
Delta Airlines this week reported $652 million in second-quarter earnings, marking its first quarterly profits since the start of the pandemic. Delta relied on government aid from April through June and would have reported a $678 million loss if not for $1.5 billion in pandemic relief.
As reported in TFG Transportation Notes, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings filed a lawsuit against Florida’s surgeon general in an effort to prevent the state from carrying out its so-called vaccine passport ban barring businesses from requiring customers to provide proof of vaccination.
The City of Chicago is putting a travel order back in effect due to concern over an increase in COVID-19 cases in nearby states. The Chicago Department of Public Health announced this week unvaccinated visitors from Missouri and Arkansas must present a negative COVID-19 test or be required to quarantine for 10 days.
The Biden Administration announced a door-to-door COVID-19 vaccination campaign after falling short of its 4th of July goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the adult population with at least one shot. A recent Morning Consult-Politico poll shows 54 percent of respondents support the door-to-door plan.
The CDC and FDA announced that fully vaccinated Americans do not need a booster shot at this time. The current vaccines are highly effective and protect from severe disease and death.
Health officials share that more information is needed on COVID-19 booster shots and whether they would increase the risk of severe side effects. Current data shows the risk of developing both rare and common side effects after the COVID-19 shot was higher after the second dose.
The Delta variant now accounts for more than 51% of COVID-19 cases and more than 80% of new infections in the U.S.
Moderna announces the first participants have been dosed in an early trial of a seasonal flu vaccine that uses messenger RNA technology. Moderna seeks to develop a respiratory vaccine combining seasonal flu, a COVID-19 variant booster, and respiratory syncytial virus.
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