Coronavirus Update
June 4, 2020
Information and resources on federal responses to the coronavirus crisis for state, local, and regional government.
Top News
Yesterday, the Senate unanimously passed HR 7010 , the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020, which makes several changes to the popular Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Specifically, the legislation will provide more flexibility for small businesses utilizing the PPP by extending the expense forgiveness period from eight weeks to twenty-four weeks; reducing the payroll ratio requirement from 75 percent down to 60 percent; extending loan terms from two to five years; allowing payroll tax deferment for PPP recipients without penalty; and extending the June 30 rehiring deadline to December 31, 2020. HR 7010 was passed with overwhelming support in the House last week by a 417-1 vote. The bill now heads to President Trump for his signature.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Susan Collins (R-ME) plan to work on more technical fixes to the PPP.

According to Reuters , a technical issue in the Small Business Administration’s loan processing system caused many small businesses to receive PPP loans twice or more. Hundreds of millions of dollars may have been mistakenly disbursed. The system apparently failed to recognize when some borrowers submitted multiple applications with several lenders.

Nearly 26,000 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19, according to new data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Seema Verma, Administrator of the CMS, said the figures will become publicly available today.

Capitol Hill. The Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate Finance and House Energy and Commerce Committees sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar stating concern over the delays in distributing funds from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to Medicaid-dependent providers.

The Congressional Budget Office projects COVID-19 will cut US gross domestic product by $15.7 trillion by 2030.

Bills and Letters of Interest

Please visit our TFG Coronavirus Legislative Trackers for public health & safety , local government relief , and business assistance .

Three bills of interest have been introduced by Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), including: S 3857 , caps unemployment benefits at 100% of an employee’s previous earnings; S 3859 , allows small businesses to use their eight-week PPP loan over 24 weeks and reduces the amount of the loan that must be spent on payroll to be forgivable to 50% and; S 3860 , codifies the Trump executive order that requires for every new federal regulation, two regulations will be eliminated.

S 3856 (Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)), authorizes emergency homeless assistance grants under the Emergency Solutions Grants program of the Department of Housing and Urban Development for response to the pandemic.

HR 7070/S 3846 (Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA)/Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI)), instructs the President to issue a proclamation designating a National Day of Mourning and Lament to observe a moment of silence as a mark of respect to the memory of the more than 100,000 lives lost in the U.S. due to the coronavirus pandemic.

HR 7068 (Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC)), expands vote by mail and early voting, and improves the safety, accessibility, and efficiency of in-person voting during elections for federal office.

HR 7073 (Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA)), ensures that 2,700 special districts in California and 30,000 special districts nationwide are eligible for any additional federal assistance provided by Congress to state, county, and local governments to aid in the fight against COVID-19.

HR 7065 (Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX)), requires states that received funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to certify to the Treasury Department by June 12, 2020, that they have a process in place for redistributing a portion of those funds to local governments within their jurisdiction.

HR 7066 (Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX)), helps local businesses rebuild their workforce quickly by turning coronavirus unemployment benefits into a back-to-work bonus that will provide a bump to workers and help accelerate our economic recovery.

Twenty-four Democratic Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai urging him to delay a vote on a Declaratory Ruling that would limit local governments‘ role in the deployment of wireless infrastructure.

Hearings

There are numerous Congressional hearings taking place for the remainder of this week related to the coronavirus, including:


Administration. The Federal Reserve Board announced an expansion in the number and type of entities eligible to use its Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF). Under the new terms, states will be able to have at least two cities or counties eligible to directly issue notes to the MLF regardless of population. In addition, Governors will be allowed to designate two issuers in their jurisdictions whose revenues are derived from operating government activities (such a public transit, airports, toll facilities and utilities) to be eligible to directly use the facility.

The Trump Administration has yet to pay out the majority of the $175 billion Congress approved in emergency aid to health providers, as reported by Politico . HHS has allocated only about $77 billion of the total and are still figuring out how to distribute the funds fairly and with appropriate oversight.

The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response is providing an additional $250 million to aid U.S. health care systems treating patients and responding to the pandemic. As authorized by the CARES Act, HHS has provided a total of $350 million to healthcare systems, including $100 million released in April.

The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau approved an additional 53 funding applications for the COVID-19 Teleheath Program for a total funding amount of $16.46 million.

The Treasury Department and the IRS announced 159 million Economic Impact Payments, worth more than $267 billion, have been distributed to Americans in two months.

OSHA issued guidance that includes recommended actions to protect agriculture workers from exposure to the coronavirus. OSHA also issued an alert listing safety tips employers can follow to protect stockroom and loading dock workers in the retail industry from exposure to the coronavirus. 

The USDA announced that the Farm Service Agency (FSA) has already approved more than $545 million in payments to producers who have applied for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. FSA began accepting applications May 26, and the agency has received over 86,000 applications to-date.
Advocacy
NLC Vice President and Mayor of Louisville, KY, Greg Fischer, provided testimony to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today regarding surface transportation infrastructure needs. In his written testimony, Mayor Fischer discusses the impacts COVID-19 in communities across the country.

In response to the Treasury Department’s May 28 update to its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document on the Coronavirus Relief Fund, the NLC released a statement expressing the importance of providing direct aid to cities, villages, and towns: “The National League of Cities (NLC) acknowledges the work of the U.S. Department of the Treasury in providing an increased mandate for states to share funds received under the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) with cities, towns and villages. The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) issued on May 28, 2020 encourages states to pass through payments to America’s cities, towns and villages with a population below 500,000. While this is an important step forward, it is not enough. Without direct appropriations to cities, villages, and towns, we fear that funds for these municipalities will never reach their intended targets. So far, 28 states have still not issued plans to pass any money through to thousands of local governments, and four states have authorized or plan to transfer the money to counties and have excluded any direct funding to municipal governments. NLC recognizes the Treasury’s efforts on sharing funds in the CARES Act, but direct funding to America’s communities is an absolute necessity if we wish to maintain the hundreds of thousands of jobs and livelihoods in America’s cities, towns, and villages; support essential services at a local level in every state during the nation’s ongoing health crisis; and facilitate the economic recovery we all desire.”

NLC members are also submitting op-eds as part of the Cities are Essential campaign. 
Events and Resources
FEMA WEBINAR SERIES - COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season
June 4, 10:00 am – 11:00 am ET

NACo WEBINAR - EDA CARES Act Funding Availability
June 5, 2020, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
This webinar will feature EDA representatives sharing information regarding who qualifies for grants, how to apply, what kind of project support/assistance will be funded, and more.

Check out the TFG Coronavirus Library on Federal Guidance for CRS Reports and other recently released federal guidance and information.
For more information please contact Zachary Israel zisrael@tfgnet.com (202) 256-4386