Yesterday, House Democrats delayed a vote on their $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill (an updated, scaled-down version of the HEROES Act) as negotiations continue between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on compromise legislation. The House did, however, vote 225-188 to adopt a rule for consideration should Democrats decide to proceed with a final vote on the bill today or tomorrow if a compromise agreement is not reached with the White House.
Roll Call reports Secretary Mnuchin offered Speaker Pelosi a $1.62 trillion relief proposal during a 90-minute meeting on Capitol Hill yesterday. The meeting ended without a deal but both sides agreed to continue negotiations today. The proposal reportedly includes $250 billion in aid for state and local governments, $186 billion less than what Democrats want but at least $100 billion more than previous offers from the White House. The Secretary’s proposal also reportedly includes $400/week in unemployment assistance that would be retroactive to September 12 and extend through January 1, 2021. Other provisions in the Secretary’s proposal, according to Roll Call, include:
- $175 billion total for health care related provisions, including $50 billion for vaccine production and distribution and $50 billion to support health care providers, including hospitals
- $150 for education/schools
- $160 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program
- $120 billion (approximately) for hard-hit businesses including restaurants, entertainment venues, lodging, and airlines.
- $75 billion to expand coronavirus testing and tracing
- $60 billion for rental and mortgage assistance
- $28 billion in student loan relief
- $25 billion for childcare providers
- $20 billion for farmers and ranchers
- $15 billion for broadband connections in underserved communities
- $15 billion for nutrition programs
- $13 billion to expand paid leave for workers with children and adult dependents
- $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service
- $5 billion for child welfare services
- $3 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) suggested the House may be willing to wait several days to vote on a compromise bill if an agreement is reached but said the House will move their own bill if there is no deal. It is unclear if Senate Republicans will be able to garner the votes needed to move whatever deal is negotiated between the White House and House Democrats—the latest proposal from Senate Republicans totaled approximately $500 billion and did not include provisions such as additional aid for state and local governments. Please continue to monitor updates from your TFG Client Manager in the coming days as we learn more.
Capitol Hill. President Trump signed stopgap spending legislation (H.R. 8337) early this morning to avert a government shutdown. The bill will keep the federal government operating through Friday, December 11 at current FY2020 spending levels. The Senate on Wednesday approved the bill by a vote of 84-10, and the House passed it on September 22 by a vote of 359-57-1. The Continuing Resolution (CR) does not contain any coronavirus-related relief provisions.
The House is scheduled to begin its five-week recess tomorrow while the Senate’s four-week recess is scheduled to begin October 9. Other than the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett during the week of Oct. 12 and a likely Senate floor vote on her nomination the week of Oct. 26, there will likely be no additional legislative hearings or votes on legislation in the House or Senate before Election Day, with the possible exception of a coronavirus relief deal.
CDC released a study finding the number of working-age Americans without health insurance was rising even before the coronavirus pandemic struck the US. The study found that 14.5% of adults ages 18 to 64 were uninsured in 2019, a rise from 13.3% in 2018.
HHS announced five cooperative agreements with health information exchange organizations to help support state and local public health agencies in their efforts to respond to public health emergencies.
HHS launched an initiative to measure health information technology use among office-based physicians across the country. The results of the initiative will provide the Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology with national-level data on how office-based physicians use health IT.
HHS also detailed the national distribution plan for the Abbott BinaxNOW Ag Card rapid test to assist Governors' efforts to continue to safely reopen their states. “BinaxNOW is a unique testing option to provide support to K-12 teachers and students, higher education, critical infrastructure, first responders, and other priorities as governors deem fit… The BinaxNOW rapid test will produce COVID-19 test results in 15 minutes and costs $5.”
STAT News released the organizational chart of President Trump’s $10 billion initiative Operation Warp Speed, which was unveiled to accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. The chart shows that roughly 60 military officials are involved in the operation and 29 of the roughly 90 leaders work for the HHS and its subagencies.
The CDC is extending a ban on cruises in the U.S. through October 31. The ban was set to expire on September 30, but CDC Robert Redfield recommended an extension of the “no sail” order.
DOL reports initial unemployment insurance claims at 837,000, a decrease of 36,000 from the previous week's revised level. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 8.1 percent for the week ending September 19, a decrease of 0.6 percentage point.
DOL also announced additional funding for 15 Dislocated Worker Grants (DWGs) totaling $118,034,389 to help address the workforce-related impacts of the coronavirus public health emergency. This additional funding is provided using the Dislocated Worker Grant National Reserve Funds.
FDA is announcing final guidance for industry for assessing COVID-19 related symptoms in outpatient adult and adolescents in clinical trials for drugs and biological products for COVID-19 prevention or treatment.
NACo offers an excellent analysis of the revised HEROES Act outlined in the Top News section of today’s Update.
National League of Cities CEO and Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony issued a statement regarding efforts in the House to move forward with additional relief legislation. “We are encouraged to see positive movement toward a new COVID-19 relief package that will bring negotiators back to the table…” Anthony also wrote, “Any meaningful package must provide for the direct allocation of aid to municipalities of all sizes” and advocated for an extension of the time frame during which the aid can be used in “order to provide long-term stability that municipalities need to effectively recover from the economic downturn in the coming months and years.”
Reuters reports FDA is investigating the case of a participant in AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine study who became ill with “what is believed to be a rare spinal inflammatory disorder (transverse myelitis).” The Reuters story notes the FDA investigation could delay “what has been one of the most advanced COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development.”
DOD and HHS announced a $20 million contract award with On Demand Pharmaceuticals (ODP) to develop a domestic production capability for critical active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and final formulated medicines using their proprietary Pharmacy on Demand technology.
The US Treasury Department announced it has closed loans to seven large passenger air carriers under the CARES Act. The seven air carriers are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, and United Airlines.
U.S. Conference of Mayors joined COVID RELIEF NOW, a coalition of nearly 200 major public and private sector groups across the U.S., calling for “No Recess without Relief” and imploring Congress to not leave town for the 2020 elections without passing additional COVID economic relief.
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