President Trump Signs “Phase Three” COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

On March 27, President Trump signed H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Earlier the same day, the House passed the economic stimulus bill by voice vote, and the Senate passed the bill with a vote of 96-0 the week before. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the budget impact of the bill to be about $591 billion over the next decade. The legislation would provide roughly $250 billion in rebate checks to most Americans, help struggling businesses meet payrolls and enhance state and local relief efforts. Find the bill text here.

HHS Tells States to Use Emergency Powers to Expand Providers’ Scope

On March 24, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asked governors to expand access to providers during the COVID-19 emergency by relaxing provider licensure and supervision requirements and increasing liability protections. HHS asked states to allow health professionals licensed or certified in one state to practice in other states either in-person or over telemedicine. HHS asked governors to waive state licensure or certification fees and to work with state licensure boards to put a moratorium on scope of practice limits.

HHS Warns of Medicare Fraud with Fake COVID-19 Tests

On March 23, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General warned that scammers are targeting Medicare beneficiaries with promises of illegitimate COVID-19 tests in order to steal beneficiaries’ medical information and fraudulently bill federal health care programs. The fake treatments are being offered through telemarketing calls, social media platforms and door-to-door visits. Find more information here.

Read more in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.

The CARES Act contains several provisions related to education. The U.S. Education Department (USED) will receive $30.9 billion total, of which $30.75 billion will go directly to states, local school districts, and institutions of higher education “to help schools, students, teachers, and families with immediate needs related to coronavirus.” Those funds are as follows:

$3 billion for the “Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund” to make in additional grants to elementary and secondary education schools and institutions of higher education that have been most significantly impacted by coronavirus—with the goal of ensuring the ongoing functionality of schools and institutions. USED Secretary DeVos will invite governors to apply for funds not later than 30 days of enactment of the bill, and will approve (or deny) applications no later than 30 days after receipt. The money allocated to states is based on 60 percent of their relative population of individuals ages 5-24, and 40 percent of their relative number of children counted under section 1124(c) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (i.e., children ages 5-17 who are: below the poverty line; neglected, delinquent, or in foster homes; and, above the poverty line).

$13.5 billion in funding for the “Elementary and Secondary Education School Emergency Relief Fund” with 12 permissible, wide-ranging uses of those funds such as principal and school leader support, purchasing education technology (e.g., hardware, software, connectivity), continuing to employ existing staff, etc. Similar to the Governor’s Fund, USED Secretary DeVos will invite State Education Agencies to apply within 30 days of enactment of the bill. Of those funds allocated to states, not less than 90 percent will be directed to Local Education Agencies through the Title I, Part A formula of ESEA.

$14.25 billion in funding for the “Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund” to cover any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus, excluding payment to contractors for pre-enrollment recruitment activities, endowments, or capital outlays associated with facilities related to athletics, sectarian instruction, or religious worship. Not less than 90 percent of those funds will be directed to higher education institutions through the Title IV formula of the Higher Education Act and apportioned by 75 percent according to the relative share of full-time equivalent enrollment of Federal Pell Grant recipients (who are not exclusively enrolled in distance education courses prior to this emergency) and 25 percent according to the relative share of full-time equivalent enrollment of students who were not Federal Pell Grant recipients (who are not exclusively enrolled in distance education courses prior to the emergency).

There is additional funding directed to Project SERV ($100 million); Howard University ($13 million); Gallaudet University ($7 million); Student Aid Administration ($40 million); and the Office of the Inspector General ($7 million).

Other key education policy provisions include:

  • Requires the Secretary of Education to defer student loan payments, principal, and interest for 6 months without penalty;
  • Waives the institutional matching requirement for campus-based aid programs (e.g., GEAR UP);
  • Allows institutions to transfer unused work-study funds to be used for supplement grants;
  • Allows institutions to issue work-study payments to students who are unable to work due to work-place closures as a lump sum or in payments similar to paychecks;
  • Excludes the term from counting toward lifetime Pell eligibility for students who dropped out of school as a result of the coronavirus;
  • Provides the Secretary of Education with waiver authority to provide waivers from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, except civil rights laws; and,
  • Requires the academic year to be counted towards TEACH grant obligations or Teacher Loan Forgiveness, if teachers could not finish the year of teaching service as a result of the coronavirus.

Read more about COVID-19’s impact on education on McGuireWoods Consulting’s website.

The COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic continues to challenge both companies and governments as they navigate response and relief efforts. Throughout the week, we have continued to update some of the resources we have assembled to detail how both federal and state governments are responding to the outbreak.

The Latest

Early yesterday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that following several days of negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and other Administration officials, they reached a deal on the third phase of coronavirus response legislation, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The bill passed the Senate last night 96-0 and now goes to the House for its consideration.

The CARES Act has two distinct sections. The first includes economic relief for both individuals and industry (primarily the aviation sector). Our summary can be found here. The second section will provide $340 billion in FY20 supplemental appropriations to support additional federal relief efforts. A summary is available here. The team is also preparing materials with information on how the private sector can access the relief provided in the CARES Act.

During negotiations leading up to the deal, House Democrats introduced their own third phase of coronavirus response legislation, the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act, as a way to formally inject their policy priorities into the conversation. A summary of that legislation is available here. While House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) conceded that not all of the bill’s policies would be included in the phase three bill, Democrats can be expected to seek to include them in the next phase, or phases, of legislation.

The President and federal agencies continue to take other steps to respond to the outbreak, including, most recently:

  • President Trump signed an Executive Order on Preventing Hoarding of Health and Medical Resources to Respond to the Spread of COVID-19, delegating to the Secretary of Health and Human Services authority to prevent hoarding of certain resources and to implement any restrictions on hoarding.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a Federal Register notice that it has tentatively decided to extend through October 24 the coronavirus-related limited waiver of the minimum slot usage requirement at JFK, LGA, and DCA airports. Further, the FAA has tentatively decided to extend through October 24 its coronavirus-related policy for prioritizing flights canceled at designated International Air Transport Association (IATA) Level 2 airports in the US (ORD, EWR, LAX, SFO). Both policies were originally set to expire on May 31.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $100 million to over 1,300 health centers with funding provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provided instructions to manufacturers to increase US supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) and devices.
  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced existing SBA disaster loan payments will be deferred through the end of 2020.
  • The White House announced the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium to provide researchers worldwide with access to high performance computing resources to advance the pace of scientific discovery to stop the spread of coronavirus.

A thorough overview of both congressional and Administrative response efforts is available here and updated daily.

Read more in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Emerging Technologies Washington Update.

On March 25, 2020, the Senate passed a $2 trillion economic stimulus bill, the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The House is expected to pass the bill on Friday.

Visit the McGuireWoods Consulting website for a full summary of the major business provisions in the bill, including:

  • Direct Financial Support
  • Tax and Debt Provisions
  • Unemployment Insurance and Paid Leave

Senate Republicans Release “Phase Three” COVID-19 Stimulus Proposal

On March 19, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released an economic stimulus bill to fight the coronavirus’s fallout, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The proposed plan includes four priorities: direct financial help for the American people; relief for small businesses and their employees; steps to stabilize the economy and protect jobs; and more support for health care professionals and patients who are fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Among the direct help for individuals is $1,200 for individuals who make up to $75,000. It also includes an additional $500 for a child. The bill would delay the deadline to file 2019 taxes from April 15 to July 15 of this year.

The draft bill also includes $208 billion in loans for major industries that have been impacted by the coronavirus, including up to $50 billion for airlines, $8 billion for cargo air carriers and $150 billion for “other eligible entities.” The package sets aside $300 billion for small businesses. Under the loan structure, the loans would be forgiven if the businesses maintain their payroll. They could also use the loan to cover things like paid sick leave and mortgage payments. Find the full bill here.

President Trump Signs Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 18, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, an economic relief bill that provides paid sick and family leave for U.S. workers impacted by the illness, expands unemployment assistance, includes nutrition assistance and increases resources for testing. The Senate approved the bill the same day, 90-8, before forwarding it to the president’s desk. Find the final bill here.

Read more in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.

The McGuireWoods Consulting Emerging Technologies team hopes that this week’s newsletter finds you and your family well during these unusual and difficult times. The COVID-19/coronavirus outbreak presents unprecedented challenges to companies worldwide. Throughout the week, the team has been providing updates and analysis of government responses to the outbreak, both at the federal and state levels. We have linked to some of those resources, which are continuously being updated, below. If there is anything the team can do to assist you, please let us know.

The Latest

The Senate voted 90-8 to pass H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (MWC summary available here; detailed summary of paid leave provisions available here). The President signed it into law later in the day. The legislation is the result of a deal struck last Friday between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that passed the House 363-40 just after midnight on March 14. Before sending the bill to the Senate, the House passed a technical corrections package that was incorporated into the underlying legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) cancelled a planned recess this week so the chamber could take up the bill.

Efforts are now underway to draft and enact another economic stimulus package. Leader McConnell has established several task groups within the Republican conference focused on financial and other assistance for small businesses, individual Americans, industry (particularly airlines), and healthcare. Senate Republican leadership maintains that it hopes to vote on that package next week and McConnell has said the Senate will stay in session until is passes another bill.

The President is seeking an economic stimulus package in the neighborhood of $1 trillion. A Department of Treasury proposal focuses on relief for airlines and other severely impacted industries, guaranteeing money market mutual funds, direct payments to taxpayers, and small business interruption loans. Separately, the administration is seeking a second FY20 emergency supplemental appropriations bill, requesting an additional $48.5 billion to address the outbreak (detailed breakdown of request by department/agency available here). Congress passed an initial supplemental package, the $8.5 billion Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, earlier this month.

The President and federal agencies have also taken a number of other measures, including, but not limited to:

  • Yesterday, the President signed an Executive Order on Prioritizing and Allocating Health and Medical Resources to Respond to the spread of COVID-19, enabling the Secretary of Health and Human Services to, among other things, control the distribution of critical resources in the civilian market.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) took steps to expand access to telehealth services, including expanding Medicare coverage and waiving potential HIPAA penalties.
  • The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) extended the deadline to pay 2019 taxes and estimated tax payments for tax year 2020 that are due on April 15 until July 15. The filing deadline remains April 15.
  • President Trump said yesterday that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will suspend home foreclosures and evictions through the end of April.
  • The Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) waived certain hours of service regulations for commercial drivers transporting emergency supplies.
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai issued a Keep Americans Connected Pledge under which telephone and broadband providers agree that for the next 60 days they will: (1) not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of inability to pay bills due to disruptions caused by the pandemic; (2) waive any late fees incurred as a result of economic circumstances related to the pandemic; and (3) open Wi-Fi hotspots to any American in need. More than 185 providers have signed the pledge.
  • In addition, the FCC adopted an Order to fully fund all eligible Rural Health Care Program services with an additional $42.19 million in funding and waived the low-income Lifeline program’s recertification and reverification requirements for participating low-income consumers for 60 days.

What’s Next

The Senate is expected to vote in the coming days on another round of economic stimulus legislation. After yesterday’s Senate vote, Speaker Pelosi said the House will move swiftly on the next bill, but House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told lawmakers today “the House will not return to session until we are in a position to vote on the third piece of emergency legislation to respond to the economic impact of this crisis.” Hoyer’s announcement followed news yesterday that two House members have tested positive for coronavirus.

MWC Resources

Read more on McGuireWoods Consulting’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Facts and Resources website.

The coronavirus is impacting us all, both at home and at work. Given the fluid nature of information flowing at both the federal and state levels, McGuireWoods Consulting  is intent on providing our education clients minute-by-minute information to help make timely business decisions.

Federal Update on Education Policy

As it relates to education, the administration has taken several actions on the coronavirus. The U.S. Department of Education eased rules on colleges and universities, offering flexibility on higher education regulations as campus closures continue. The guidelines seek to alleviate concerns around enrollment requirements and maintaining financial aid eligibility. The Department of Education has also issued several guidance documents on providing services to students with disabilities, student privacy, and assessments and accountability under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced flexibilities to allow meal service during school closures. As of March 18, the USDA granted waiver approvals to all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico to enable Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option (SSO) sponsors to serve meals in a non-congregate setting and at school sites during the coronavirus outbreak. Finally, President Trump announced that the government would waive federal student loan interest until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In addition to passing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Congress is seeking some relief for K-12 and Higher Education. Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee Bobby Scott introduced the Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act. The bill, with its Senate companion being offered by Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Ranking Member Patty Murray, seeks to provide more than $3 billion in emergency funding for early childhood education programs, K-12 schools, and higher education institutions in response to the outbreak, including $1.2 billion in mandatory funding to provide Education Preparedness and Support Grants to governors to provide funding to school districts or institutions of higher education. The bill also provides $600 million in mandatory funding to provide grants to early care and education programs, $1.2 billion in mandatory funding to provide emergency financial aid to students in higher education, and $3 million in mandatory funding for grantees in the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. The legislation is pending.

While no formal plan has been proposed, Congressional Democrats are also considering increasing funding for E-rate and broadband infrastructure. Specifically, Democrats want to require the FCC to waive existing E-rate rules to allow schools to issue Wi-Fi hotspots or devices to students who lack Internet access at home. Several organizations that represent K-12 public and program school and public library beneficiaries support this notion and have called on the FCC to use its emergency powers to temporarily waive relevant E-rate program rules to ensure all students have Internet access while schools are closed due to coronavirus.

Read more on McGuireWoods Consulting’s website.

McGuireWoods Consulting has compiled a comprehensive list of facts and resources coming from the federal government in response to COVID-19 as it pertains to employers and businesses across industry sectors. Members of MWC’s federal public affairs team are closely following developments on Capitol Hill, and we will update information as news and insights become available.

MWC’s government relations professionals stand ready to help business owners and leaders navigate uncharted territory to identify and secure COVID-19 relief funding. Not only are we equipped to assist with funding applications, we also maintain long-standing relationships with high-ranking influencers who we can advocate before on behalf of our clients.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 14, the House passed by 363-40, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to enhance the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and address the impact of the virus on personal safety and financial security. The legislation expands access to free testing, provides $1 billion in food aid, and extends sick leave benefits. After passing the bill, the House left Washington as planned for a week-long recess. Since then, it became apparent that the bill would require a number of technical corrections.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act – Five Key Things for Healthcare Providers To Know

The Senate returned to session on March 16 and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the administration continue to negotiate the technical corrections. In the evening, the House passed by unanimous consent (UC) a resolution making several revisions.

Paid Leave Provisions

Please find below a summary of the paid leave provisions in H.R. 6201 as passed and revised by UC.

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion (Division C)
Applicability: employers with fewer than 500 employees, who have been on the job at least 30 calendar days

Who pays: employer

Leave:

  • Paid leave is to be capped at $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate. Those figures correspond to 50 days, which would be 10 weeks, instead of the 12 weeks in the passed bill.
  • The first 10 days for which an employee takes leave may consist of unpaid leave
    • Note: It is ambiguous as to whether may should be shall – Section 110(b)(2)(A) states “an employer shall provide paid leave for each day of leave under section 102(a)(1)(F) that the employee takes after taking leave under such section for 10 days.”
  • An employee may elect to substitute any accrued leave (vacation, personal, medical, sick) for this period of unpaid leave
  • After the first 10 days, employers must provide paid leave at 2/3 of regular rate of pay
  • No calendar day is emergency leave day if individual received ANY form of compensation from employer, including wages or any form of accrued paid leave for such day, or was eligible for unemployment compensation for the week in which such day occurs

Eligibility Requirements: Adopts the concept of “qualifying need” and means the employee is unable to work or telework due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter if the school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable due to coronavirus.

Duration of relief: one year from date of qualifying need or 12 weeks after leave commences, whichever is earlier

Effective date: not later than 15 days after enactment

  • Note: It is ambiguous if this gives employers discretion to begin on day one

This Act lasts until December 31, 2020.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (Division F)
Applicability: employers that employ fewer than 500 employees, regardless of how long the employee has been employed

Who pays: employer

Eligibility – an employee who is unable to work or telework because:

  • The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine order
  • The employee is advised by public health provider to self-quarantine
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms and is seeking a diagnosis
  • The employee is caring for an individual subject to a quarantine order or advised to self-quarantine
  • Employee is caring for son or daughter if the school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable due to coronavirus
  • Employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition as specified by HHS Secretary in consultation with Treasury and Labor Secretaries

Leave:

  • Full-time employees: 80 hours
  • Part-time employees: a number of hours equal to the number of hours that such employee works on average, over a 2-week period

For employers that currently provide paid sick leave:

  • An employee may first use paid sick leave under this Act (employer may not require the employee to first use other paid sick leave)

Amount of pay:

  • Paid at (greater of) regular rate of pay or minimum wage but capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate for quarantine, self-quarantine, or experiencing symptoms (first three eligibility criteria above)
  • Paid at 2/3 of (greater of) regular rate or minimum wage but capped at $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate for caring for a family member or for a son of daughter whose school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable (last three eligibility criteria above)
  • Thus, the cap is 10 days.

Duration of relief:

  • 80 hours for full-time employees
  • Paid sick leave shall not carry over to the next year

Effective date: not later than 15 days after enactment

  • Note: It is ambiguous if this gives employers discretion to begin on day one

Requirements end December 31, 2020.

Next Steps
Leader McConnell announced that there is agreement among Senate Republicans that the House bill will only be the beginning, noting that conversations are already underway regarding a third legislative package.

He listed three priorities for that legislation:

  • Further steps to assist individuals
  • Further steps to secure the economy, with a focus on Main Street and small businesses
  • Further steps to ready the healthcare system to continue to address the outbreak

House Democratic leadership has advised its members that they should not plan to return to Washington until March 23.

Read more on McGuireWoods Consulting’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Facts and Resources page.

House Passes Families First Coronavirus Response Act
On March 14, the House passed by 363-40, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to enhance the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and address the impact of the virus on personal safety and financial security.  The legislation expands access to free testing, provides $1 billion in food aid, and extends sick leave benefits.  The Senate has not acted on the legislation but will do so this week. The House left for a week long recess after passing the legislation to pressure the Senate into not making changes.  The White House supported the legislation and urged Republicans to support the bill.

House and Senate Pass Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Package to Address Coronavirus – President Signs Legislation
On March 6, President Trump signed the $8.3 billion emergency funding package Congress passed in the same week, sending funds to federal agencies and states working to combat a rising number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. The bill, H.R. 6074, provides a total of $7.7 billion in new discretionary spending and authorizes an additional $490 million in mandatory spending through a Medicare change. More than $400 million will be disbursed to states within the first 30 days of the bill’s enactment, with each state receiving no less than $4 million.

CMS Information Concerning COVID-19
On March 10, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a supplement to its guidance to home health agencies and dialysis facilities to protect the health and safety of patients and providers in response to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The memoranda were developed from frequently asked questions CMS has received about interacting with patients amid COVID-19. The guidance offers actionable information to health care workers on the screening, treatment and transfer procedures to follow when interacting with patients. This action is part of the broader effort by the White House Task Force to ensure that health care providers and patients—particularly those at high-risk of complications from COVID-19—remain healthy while helping to contain the spread of the disease.

On March 13, CMS issued Frequently Asked Questions to ensure individuals, issuers and states have clear information on coverage benefits for COVID-19, to clarify information concerning access to the health benefits that can help keep people healthy while helping to contain the spread of this disease.

On March 13, CMS posted a fact sheet to CMS.gov concerning price information of both CDC and non-CDC COVID-19 tests. On February 13 and March 5, CMS announced new Healthcare Common Procedural Coding System (HCPCS) codes for health care providers and laboratories to test patients for SARS-CoV-2. Starting in April, laboratories performing the test can bill Medicare and other health insurers for services that occurred after Feb. 4, 2020, using the newly created HCPCS code (U0001). This code is only to be used for the tests developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Laboratories performing non-CDC laboratory tests for SARS-CoV-2/2019-nCoV (COVID-19) can bill for them using a different HCPCS code (U0002). Medicare’s initial payment for the CDC test will be about $36 and non-CDC tests will be around $51. These prices may vary slightly depending on the local Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC). View the full price by MAC list here.

Read more in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.

Coronavirus Response

Late last night, after the President addressed the nation from the Oval Office, House Democrats unveiled legislation to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. House Democratic leadership was scheduled to bring the bill to the floor this morning, but Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) is continuing to negotiate with the administration through Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. This afternoon, Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) said that the Senate will forgo its planned recess next week and remain in session as talks continue.

In the meantime, the Capitol complex will begin limiting public access at 5:00 PM today through at least April 1. It remains open to members of Congress, staff, and visitors on official business, though an increasing number of lawmakers are opting to close their offices.

American Energy Innovation Act

This week, the Senate resumed consideration of S. 2657, a bipartisan package of comprehensive energy legislation known as the American Energy Innovation Act (AEIA), though progress stalled around a controversial amendment related to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The Senate also passed S. 1822, the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act, which passed the House last week and now goes to the President for his signature. For more on the DATA Act, click here.

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) struck a deal on Tuesday to reauthorize three Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) provisions that are set to expire on March 15. The House passed the legislation on Wednesday 278-136. It is unclear when the Senate will take up the measure with the President suggesting this morning that “many Republican Senators” want him to veto it.

House Marks Up Series of Bills on Spectrum and Communications

On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology marked up a series of bills on spectrum and communications, including H.R. 451, the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act and H.R. 4855, the Clearing Broad Airwaves for New Deployment (C-BAND) Act.

Coronavirus Task Force

The President has named Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) as his new Chief of Staff, replacing Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Meadows, who recently interacted with an individual infected with coronavirus, has self-quarantined through next week. Several other members of Congress who attended the same event at which the interaction took place have taken similar steps. Meanwhile, Trump attended Tuesday’s Senate Republican weekly lunch to encourage Congress to consider relief, such as tax breaks, for industries and individuals impacted by coronavirus. Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the administration’s coronavirus task force, met with healthcare industry leaders on Wednesday to discuss the response to the outbreak. See below for more details on White House coordination with the technology sector.

Section 230

Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen said during comments at a Free State Foundation event on Tuesday that “Some platforms treat [Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act] as a blank check,” adding that “perhaps there needs to be a more clear definition of both the good faith and for the vague term, ‘otherwise objectionable.’” Rosen’s comments preceded a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on new legislation targeting Section 230.

Digital Services Tax

On Wednesday, the British government confirmed plans to begin implementing a new digital services tax on tech companies of 2 percent on April 1.  The government said it would not postpone the tax while waiting for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to broker a more comprehensive deal.

Read more in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Emerging Technologies Washington Update.