McGuireWoods Consulting’s 2020 U.S. Elections Roundup interactive website is your one-stop resource for this year’s presidential, congressional, gubernatorial, attorneys general and state legislative races.

Complete with concise information about how elections are shaping up around the country — including snapshots of primary results and hot-button ballot initiatives — our site provides a landscape view of our nation’s political scene and insights on potential shifts in the tide.

Our goal is to provide business leaders and constituents quick, reliable access to comprehensive information about this year’s elections. Based on a compilation of public polling and forecasting data collected and analyzed by Politico, UVA Center for Elections, Inside Elections, 270toWin and the Cook Political Report, information provided on our site will be updated as appropriate.

We hope you find our site helpful, and please let us know if you have any questions about our country’s most anticipated elections.

Visit MWC’s 2020 Election Website

Hearings/Markups

House Energy and Commerce Committee: Full Committee Markup
The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a full committee markup and favorably reported all 26 health-related bills to the House floor with bipartisan support. The legislation included expanding access to mental health services, combating the opioid epidemic, reauthorizing key public health programs, improving Medicare enrollment, streamlining public health data sharing for Tribes and facilitating access to marijuana for research. Find more information and summary of the legislation here.

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP): Vaccines – Saving Lives, Ensuring Confidence, and Protecting Public Health
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a full committee hearing for updates on how far along the government and its industry partners are in working to prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19. The focus of the hearing was an upcoming vaccine for COVID-19. Find more information here.

Why this is important: The panel repeated to the committee that none of the safety and efficacy assessments would be skipped or abbreviated in creating a COVID-19 vaccine. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), efforts to shorten the timeline, but still achieve a safe and effective vaccine, are based in eliminating downtimes and assuming the costs of at-risk manufacturing.

House

Congress Negotiating a Continuing Resolution to Fund Government until 2021
On Sept. 8, the Trump administration and congressional leaders tentatively agreed to work on a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open past Sept. 30 when current appropriations are due to expire. The CR would fund the government at 2020 levels until Congress passes a full appropriation bill for fiscal year 2021. The Trump administration included a list of items known as “anomalies” that it wants Congress to address in the CR. The Trump administration wants funding for Medicare and Medicaid extenders, most of which are set to run through Nov. 30, as well as a provision to extend funding for the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rare pediatric disease priority review voucher program.

Senate

GOP Coronavirus Relief Package Fails to Pass Senate
On Sept. 10, a slimmed-down version of the Senate Republicans’ coronavirus relief bill failed to pass in the Senate after a vote to end debate on the legislation failed, 52-47. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced the package that included liability protections for health care facilities, paycheck protection program money and funding for state COVID-19 testing. The total cost of the bill was about $500 billion, about half of what Republicans initially proposed earlier this summer.

Warren, Casey Release Report on USPS Delivery of Prescription Drugs Delayed by Postmaster’s Changes
On Sept. 10, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) released a report that mail deliveries of prescription drugs are running on average about a day later than usual due to recent actions by U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Some deliveries are delayed upwards of seven days, which the senators say could lead to seniors’ not receiving medicines when they need them and cause health care costs to rise.  Deliveries of prescription drugs by the Postal Service (USPS) took 18 percent to 32 percent longer after DeJoy began implementing new changes at the Postal Service, according to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) surveyed by the senators. Find the report here.

Carper, Cassidy Lead Bipartisan Letter to CDC, HHS for Improvement and Modernization of COVID-19 Data Collection and Management
On Sept. 8, Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) led a bipartisan group of senators in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve, automate and modernize COVID-19 data collection and management. The senators asked HHS and CDC to use technologically advanced systems and build on existing data sources in order to provide public health officials and community leaders with more accurate, real-time information as they make decisions about reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. Find the letter here.

Read more in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.

Overview of Presidential Nominees’ Policies

The 2020 presidential campaign season is in full swing. The Democratic National Convention concluded on August 20 with former Vice President Joe Biden officially accepting his party’s nomination for president and Senator Kamala Harris accepting the nomination for vice president. A week later on August 27, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence accepted the accepted the Republican nomination for president and vice president, respectively.

Ahead of the Republican Convention, President Trump outlined a broad agenda for his second term in office. His education plan highlights two key goals: school choice and teaching “American exceptionalism.” Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden has released more detailed policy plans. His education plan includes supporting teachers, investing in schools and students, addressing inequities, ensuring career readiness, and investing in early childhood education. For more information on the candidates’ education plans and other key issues, visit McGuireWoods Consulting’s website.

This week in Washington: Congress remains in a district work period, while COVID-19 legislative talks continue.

House

E&C Democrats Ask if FDA Chief Hahn is Avoiding Political Pressure From Trump Administration
On Aug. 24, House Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Health subcommittee Chair Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Oversight subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) wrote to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Chief Stephen Hahn concerned that the Trump administration is putting political pressure on the FDA. The members asked Hahn how he is protecting the FDA’s credibility and wanted to ensure the FDA adheres to rigorous safety and efficacy data standards for any future COVID-19 vaccine authorization or approval. Find the letter here.

Administration

FDA Will Hold COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee Meeting Oct. 22
On Aug. 27, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold an advisory committee meeting on Oct. 22, 2020, to discuss general COVID-19 vaccine development and emergency use authorization (EUA) or licensure policies. The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) will not discuss any specific application.

FDA Authorizes First Diagnostic Test Where Results Can Be Read Directly From Testing Card
On Aug. 26, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its first emergency use authorization (EUA) to a COVID-19 antigen test where the results can be read directly from the testing card. The FDA said the test can be made broadly available in point-of-care settings, such as doctors’ offices, emergency rooms and some schools. The test, Abbott Diagnostics’ BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card, will cost $5, and the manufacturer plans to have 50 million tests available per month by the beginning of October. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded a $760 million contract to Abbott Diagnostics to produce and deploy 150 million of the BinaxNOW tests. Find the EUA here.

FDA Issues EUA for Use of Convalescent Plasma in COVID-19 Patients
On Aug. 23, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Chief Stephen Hahn announced that the FDA granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to convalescent plasma for use as a COVID-19 therapy. Based on an evaluation of the EUA criteria and the totality of the available scientific evidence, the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research determined that the statutory criteria for issuing an EUA were met.

CMS Pushes Back By a Year Timeline for Finishing Stark Law Reforms
On Aug. 26, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) delayed by one year its timeframe for finalizing reforms to the physician self-referral rule, but the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General did not mention a similar extension for pending reforms to the anti-kickback statute. While CMS’s rule continues to be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), CMS announced it is continuously working to finalize the physician self-referral changes, even as the new extension says that the complexity of the issue kept CMS from meeting its prior deadline.

CMS: Nursing Homes in COVID-19 Hotspots Must Test Staff Twice a Week
On Aug. 26, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a memo for nursing homes on how often to test their staff for COVID-19 based on community spread. This memo follows the final interim rule released this week that required nursing homes to immediately test staff or face fines. The memo said that nursing homes in areas with high COVID-19 positivity rates must test staff twice a week. The memo explained that nursing homes should first test staff with symptoms and then test the rest of the staff when there is an outbreak. During an outbreak, testing must be done for all staff, even if they previously tested negative, until no new cases are identified.

DOJ Seeks Data on Governors’ COVID-19 Nursing Home Policies
On Aug. 26, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a press release asking Democratic governors of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan for information on how COVID-19 affected public nursing home residents. The press release mentioned that the DOJ might open investigations under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, arguing that the governors required nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients to their vulnerable populations, without adequate testing.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.

This week: Agencies issue guidance on UAS detection and mitigation technology; White House calls for 30% boost to AI and quantum information science funding; California approves final CCPA regulations; DOE and DOD announce First Five Consortium to leverage AI in disaster response.

Agencies Issue Guidance on UAS Detection and Mitigation Technology

This week, the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released interagency advisory guidance on use of unmanned aircraft system (UAS) detection and mitigation technology. The document is intended to advise both non-federal public and private entities and provides an overview of relevant US criminal code enforced by DOJ, as well as laws and regulations enforced by the FAA, DHS, and FCC pertaining to aviation safety, airport security, and spectrum.

In recent years, Congress granted limited UAS countermeasures authorities to the Departments of Defense (DOD) and Energy (DOE), and later to DOJ and DHS, in annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) legislation. These entities do not have authority to approve state and local or private use of UAS detection or mitigation capabilities, or to conduct legal reviews of commercially available products.

Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen, who previously served as Deputy Secretary of Transportation, said the guidance is a response to an increase in the availability of UAS countermeasures technologies, which “may be presented for sale without a full discussion of important legal requirements.”

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

House

Energy and Commerce Democrats Ask Insurers for Details on COVID-19 Coverage, Profits
On Aug. 13, House Energy & Commerce Democrats asked five major health insurers and four dental insurance companies to explain their profits, coverage policies and practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Oversight subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Health subcommittee Chair Anna Eshoo (D-CA) sent letters to Anthem, Cigna, CVS Health, Humana and UnitedHealth Group, as well as dental insurance companies. The letters asked for the companies’ net income and earnings for years 2018, 2019 and each of the first two quarters of 2020, broken down by line of business and including stand-alone dental. The letters asked for member premiums and the claims amounts paid out during each of those periods.

House and Senate Democrats Against Proposed Rule Granting Flexibility for Grandfathered Plans
On Aug. 11, House Labor & Education Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA), Energy & Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Ways & Means Chair Richard Neal (D-MA), Senate Finance ranking Democrat Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) ranking member Patty Murray (D-WA) asked the Trump administration to end its proposal for more flexibility to grandfathered plans not compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The listed concerns included an increase in cost sharing during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as an increase of the premium adjustment percentage that could increase out-of-pocket costs.

Senate

Baldwin, Murphy Ask CBO to Revisit Assumptions on Short-Term Plans
On Aug. 13, Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) asked the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to reevaluate the determination that an amount of the short-term limited-duration insurance (STLDI) plans allowed by the Trump administration should be considered as health insurance. CBO earlier projected traditional short-term plans for which those enrolled would be considered uninsured, and new STLDI plans, the enrollees of which would be considered insured. The senators said only plans without protections are being offered.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.

This week: EU-US privacy shield struck down, but talks continue; White House and Defense Department announce mid-band spectrum auction for 5G; Ninth Circuit decision largely upholds FCC decisions to promote 5G deployment; President Trump signs Executive Order targeting Chinese apps.

President Trump Signs Executive Order Targeting Chinese Apps

After months of threats, on August 6 President Trump issued an Executive Order prohibiting any person or entity under the jurisdiction of the United States from conducting transactions with ByteDance, the parent company of Chinese social media platform TikTok. The order will come into effect on September 20 and follows warnings that the President would move to ban the social media platform if not sold to an American company. Microsoft is currently in discussions to purchase the app; however, the Trump Administration has only given Microsoft until September 15 to close a deal, or the app will be banned from the United States on national security grounds. President Trump issued a similar order targeting WeChat, a Chinese messaging app that is much less popular in the United States, on the same day.

Concerns surrounding TikTok are not new. Many privacy stakeholders have suggested that user data owned by the company may be compromised, as current Chinese law provides Chinese regulators with near universal access to user data stored in the country. In prefacing the orders, Trump highlighted that many federal entities, including the Department of Homeland Security and United States Armed Forces, have already prohibited downloading TikTok on government phones. Similarly, the Senate, by a unanimous vote, passed a bill last week banning TikTok on all government-issued devices. The House passed a similar measure as an amendment to its National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last month. TikTok is expected to file a lawsuit against the Administration soon.

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

House

House Energy and Commerce Committee to Investigate Health, Dental Insurers Over Record Profits
On Aug. 6, the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced an investigation into health and dental insurers’ business practices as companies reported record-setting second quarter profits. Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) is concerned that companies are profiting from patients’ forgoing care. In addition he questions why insurers are denying coverage for COVID-19 testing, while accumulating large cash reserves. He will ask companies whether they are covering tests cost-free as required by law and how they intend to use their profits to help Americans during the crisis. The committee has yet to say which companies will be investigated. Find more information here.

House Ways & Means Committee: COVID-19 Nursing Home Data Missing, Unreliable
On Aug. 5, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-MA) wrote to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma that his committee has found large gaps in the COVID-19 data nursing homes report to CMS. Rep. Neal announced that the incomplete data is making it difficult to accurately assess death rates and staffing needs and to allocate provider relief funds. The committee wants to know by Aug. 21 how CMS will fix the data collection problems. Find more information here.

Senate

Wyden Introduces Legislation to Prevent Vaccine Manufacturers From Hiking Prices Post-Pandemic
On Aug. 7, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced legislation to maintain lower prices for a COVID-19 vaccine for all vaccines developed with government funds. The Vaccine and Coverage Certainty Act caps increases on prices the drug manufacturers offer the federal government during the pandemic. The inflation rebates proposed in the bill apply to Medicare and Medicaid. The legislation would also provide more federal Medicaid funding to states that expanded Medicaid coverage after 2014, ensure migrants have access to Medicaid, and protect people who are experiencing job and health insurance instability during the pandemic and associated economic concerns. Find the bill here.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.

This week: FCC requests comment on social media order as White House withdraws O’Rielly nomination; U.S. Justice Department asks court to block California net neutrality law; FTC Commissioners testify before Senate Commerce on Section 230, antitrust; Congress voices support for Open Technology Fund; National Institutes of Health announces new COVID-19 testing technologies.

FCC Requests Comment on Social Media Order as White House Withdraws O’Rielly Nomination

On July 27, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) filed a Petition for Rulemaking with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) related to President Trump’s May Executive Order on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced on Monday the agency would collect public comment on the petition; initial comments are due by September 2 and reply comments are due by September 17. The Petition would have the FCC create regulations to clarify the scope of the liability protections afforded under Section 230 for third party users.

Also on Monday, President Trump withdrew Republican Commissioner Mike O’Rielly’s renomination to another five year term. O’Rielly has been a member of the FCC since 2013 and was confirmed for a second term in January 2015. His reappointment would have been retroactive to June 30, 2019 and would conclude in 2024, but now he must step down at year’s end.

Although President Trump has not commented on rescinding O’Rielly’s renomination, reports indicate the decision might have to do with the Commissioner’s reservations regarding the President’s Executive Order to clarify the scope of Section 230, and in particular whether the FCC has proper authority to limit social media companies’ legal protections. He expressed his concern in remarks last week before The Media Institute, whose primary mission is to promote freedom of speech. The decision could also relate to O’Rielly’s support for Ligado Network’s plan to use L-Band spectrum to support 5G and other Internet of Things services. Just last week, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) placed a hold on O’Rielly’s renomination over the FCC’s Ligado order.

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

Hearings

Senate Committee on Finance: Part 1: Protecting the Reliability of the U.S. Medical Supply Chain During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Tuesday, July 28, 2020: The Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing on the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the U.S. medical supply chain in a two-part series. Find more details on the hearing here.

Why this is important: Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) argued that the main concerns around PPE and medical equipment are the fault of the U.S.’s major supplier, China. Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) believes that the concerns revolve around a lack of organization and oversight by the Trump administration and its agencies. Members agreed that increased domestic production was a first step toward solving the supply chain concerns.

House Committee on Energy and Commerce: Improving Access to Care: Legislation to Reauthorize Key Public Health Programs
Wednesday, July 29, 2020: The Subcommittee of Health on the Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing to discuss the following legislation:

  • H.R. 2075, the “School-Based Health Centers Reauthorization Act of 2019”
  • H.R. 4078, the “EARLY Act Reauthorization of 2019”
  • H.R. 4439, the “Creating Hope Reauthorization Act”
  • H.R. 4764, the “Timely Reauthorization of Necessary Stem-cell Programs Lends Access to Needed Therapies Act of 2019” or the “TRANSPLANT Act of 2019”
  • H.R. 5373, the “United States Anti-Doping Agency Reauthorization Act of 2019”

Find more details on the hearing here.

Senate Committee on Finance: Part 2: Protecting the Reliability of the U.S. Medical Supply Chain During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Thursday, July 30, 2020: The Senate Committee on Finance held a second hearing on the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the U.S. medical supply chain, in a two-part series. Find more details on the hearing here.

Why this is important: The witnesses across the supply chain agreed that more oversight by the agencies of the Trump administration, and more transparent allocation and bidding could help lessen the counterfeit personal protective equipment (PPE) and price gouging.

House

House Approves $1.3 Trillion Spending Package for 2021
On July 31, the House approved a $1.3 trillion appropriations package for the 2021 fiscal year, 217-197. The package included the spending bills for Defense; Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; Commerce, Justice and Science; Energy and Water; Financial Services and general government; and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

House Republicans Accuse States of Not Using CARES Act Funds
On July 30, the House Ways & Means Republicans said a recently released Treasury Inspector General (IG) report proves states do not need extra COVID-19 funds, as several states have not even spent half of their CARES Act allocations. House Ways & Means Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) pointed out that the IG report shows while Michigan and New Jersey’s governors have specifically asked for more relief, they have spent 3 percent and 2.1 percent respectively of their CARES Act funds from March 1 through June 30. The Senate GOP proposal gives states greater flexibility in spending their CARES Act funds instead of sending them more money.

Senate

Senate GOP Proposal Includes Liability Limits, Telehealth Waiver Extensions

On July 27, Senate Republicans unveiled their proposal for the next COVID-19 response bill. The draft includes a provision that would keep Medicare Part B premiums in place for next year instead of increasing the premium. The idea is to protect Medicare’s 62.5 million beneficiaries from a spike in the Part B premium which is anticipated because of less money flowing into the program in the midst of the pandemic. However, beneficiaries would pay an average of $3 a month extra until the shortfall caused by freezing the premiums is recouped. In addition, the proposal would delay providers’ repayment of Medicare funds they received as part of the initial COVID-19 response. Repayment would be delayed until Jan. 1, 2021. Find the proposal here.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.