News from Washington on federal coronavirus information and resources.
June 10, 2021
Information and resources on federal responses to the coronavirus crisis for state, local, and regional government.
A bipartisan infrastructure deal is becoming less likely, after talks between the Biden Administration and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), who is leading a group of Republican senators in negotiations, broke down on June 8 over how to pay for the Administration’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan. The Republican group offered a nearly $1 trillion package, and the Administration was willing to drop its price tag but wanted at least $1 trillion in spending beyond what is projected under existing programs. There is also disagreement over how to pay for the plan. Republicans favor shifting coronavirus relief funds to pay for it, while the Administration wants an increase in corporate tax rates, in addition to the new spending request, which led to the impasse. President Biden released a statement regarding the infrastructure package negotiations with congressional leaders.
Negotiations will continue, but likely with another group of senators called the G20, a bipartisan group of mostly centrist members. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said “We’re pursuing two tracks: one bipartisan and one reconciliation.”
Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) led a bicameral lettersigned by nine lawmakers calling on the Treasury Department to recommend a change to the Interim Final Rule related to allowable expenditures of funds for state and local governments under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The proposed change would allow for more municipalities to use funds to provide accessible, high-speed internet in their towns and cities.
Treasury released an updated State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds FAQ on June 8; the FAQ clearly notes newly added information. The FAQ also requests comments on the SLFRF Interim Final Rule; comments are due July 16 and may be submitted here. As of this morning there are 96 comments in the Docket.
Industry & Advocacy
NLC released a helpful article on computing revenue loss and a calculator to help municipalitiesdetermine their revenue losses this year in order to effectively use the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds established in the American Rescue Plan Act.
NACo again released a statement on its strong opposition to any proposal that would repurpose urgently needed coronavirus recovery funds for infrastructure. “Diverting coronavirus relief funds away from current and future recovery efforts would be unwise and detrimental to our communities,” said NACo Government Affairs Director Mark Ritacco.
U.S. Conference of Mayors will be participating in President Biden’s Month of Action to increase vaccinations in cities across the country through the “Mayors Challenge”. The initiative is aimed at increasing rates and ensuring equitable access to the vaccine by mobilizing communities to do their part and get involved.
The second-largest teachers union in the U.S. is launching a national ad campaign calling on schools to reopen for in-person classes five days a week this fall. The American Federation of Teachers is focusing on TV and digital ads featuring teachers who support coming back to school.
Moderna has filed its request with the FDA to use its Coronavirus vaccine in adolescents as young as 12 years old. Moderna announced that its two-dose vaccine was 100% effective among nearly 2,500 adolescents who receive the vaccine as part of the study. Emergency authorization is expected to be granted.
The White House announced their plan to purchase 500 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to donate to COVAX, helping to vaccinate 92 low-and middle-income countries and the African Union by August 2021. The 500 million doses are part of President Biden’s previous pledge to send 2 billion doses of the vaccine to low- and middle-income countries.
Vaccination rates in the United States are plummeting, with an average of fewer than 1 million shots administered per day. The slowdown is nationwide, with every state down at least two-thirds from its peak, becoming a barrier to President Biden’s goal of getting shots to at least 70 percent of adults by July 4.
Pfizer announced they would begin testing itsCOVID-19 vaccine in larger groups of childrenunder age 12. The study will enroll up to 4,500 children at more than 90 clinical sites in the United States, Finland, Poland and Spain. Pfizer said they would test a dose of 10 micrograms in children between 5 and 11 years of age and 3 micrograms for the age group of 6 months to 5.