White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro said this week that President Trump “is very interested in something on the order of at least $2 trillion” for the next coronavirus response package. The statement is at odds with Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s (R-KY) previous assertions that a Phase 4 package should come in at no more than $1 trillion. In contrast, the House Democrats’ HEROES Act is approximately $3 trillion.
Congressional Republicans have generally maintained that existing relief programs need more time to take effect before moving ahead with a Phase 4. In recent days, the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration (SBA) published two new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) interim final rules (IFRs), available here and here, to make revisions to the first PPP interim final rule to conform with the PPP Flexibility Act. Another new IFR makes revisions to the program’s third and sixth IFRs. SBA also updated the borrower application and the lender application and published a new EZ loan forgiveness application (with instructions) and a new standard loan forgiveness application (with instructions). Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston also announced that the Main Street Lending Program Lender Portal is open and the Federal Reserve announced it is seeking public comment on its proposal to expand the Main Street Lending Program to provide access to credit for nonprofit organizations.
On Capitol Hill, congressional committees continued to hold COVID-19 oversight hearings focused on a range of topics, including the impact on public education, the impact on Sub-Saharan Africa, how bad actors are exploiting the financial system, how the Department of Homeland Security can safely resume operations, telehealth, the PPP, racial and ethnic health disparities, international pandemic preparedness, tax relief, resuming air travel, and jobs and unemployment.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources and House Energy and Commerce Committees also held hearings on the impact of COVID-19 on the energy industry and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testified before the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees on the semiannual Monetary Report to Congress.
Elsewhere, the President and federal agencies continue to take other steps to respond to the outbreak, including, but not limited to:
- Vice President Pence held a briefing with governors and the White House Coronavirus Task Force on COVID-19 response and recovery with a focus on supporting small businesses and workforce development.
- The Vice President also published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “There Isn’t a Coronavirus Second Wave” in which he discusses the Administration’s efforts related to testing, PPE distribution, and vaccine development.
- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a fact sheet on Operation Warp Speed, which aims to deliver 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released consolidated recommendations for COVID-19 testing, including interim testing guidelines for nursing home residents and healthcare personnel, as well as testing strategy options for high-density critical infrastructure workplaces after a COVID-19 case is identified. The recommendations compile and update previous testing guidance.
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revoked emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. FDA Chief Scientist Denise Hinton wrote that studies indicate the drugs “are unlikely to produce an antiviral effect” to treat coronavirus.
- The Department of Labor (DOL) issued programmatic guidance to help ensure the accuracy of unemployment claims made due to implementation of the CARES Act.
- A draft Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) policy statement provided guidance regarding the Commission’s response to the effects of the COVID-19 national emergency on oil pipelines.
A complete overview of both congressional and Administrative response efforts is available here and updated daily.
Next week, House and Senate committees have more coronavirus oversight hearings scheduled to examine inequities in education, health, and the workforce, preparing for the next pandemic, the Trump Administration’s response to the pandemic, health and wealth inequality, capital markets and emergency lending, and insuring against a pandemic.
- Federal Response Timeline
- New Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports:
- Executive Order to Accelerate Economic Recovery from COVID-19 Emergency by Expediting Infrastructure Investment
- Federal Reserve: Emergency Lending in Response to COVID-19
- National Stockpiles: Background and Issues for Congress
- Potential COVID-19 Impacts on Health Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs) and Recent Health FSA Changes
- Selected Grant Resources for Workforce Development and Jobs Training in Response to COVID-19
- USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Direct Payments
- COVID-19 and Global Food Security: Issues for Congress
- Federal Housing Policy Responses to COVID-19
- COVID-19: Effect on Organ Donation and Transplantation
- Delivery of Economic Impact Payments
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Live Map
- KFF: State Data and Policy Actions to Address Coronavirus
Read more in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Emerging Technologies Washington Update.