The Latest

House and Senate committees are continuing to hold hearings examining various COVID-19-related issues, including its impact on certain sectors and communities and the federal government response. This week, committees looked at issues ranging from the 2020 tax filing season and IRS COVID-19 recoverysafely getting back to work and schooloversight of the Treasury Department’s and Federal Reserve’s pandemic responseinfrastructure development opportunities to drive economic recoverythe Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, and the Administration’s efforts to procure, stockpile, and distribute critical supplies.

This week the House and Senate passed a bill that extends the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) until August 8. About $130 billion in PPP funds remains uncommitted. The bill now heads to President Donald Trump’s desk.

Also this week, the Treasury Department published its second Small Business Administration (SBA) PPP Loan Report and updated its Payroll Support Program FAQs. The SBA issued an interim final rule providing additional PPP guidance on eligible payroll costs. The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) announced the deployment of $10 million in CARES Act funding to the network of MBDA Business Centers and national minority chambers of commerce.

Elsewhere, the White House and federal agencies continue to take other steps to respond to the outbreak, including, but not limited to:

  • The Vice President Pence hosted a call with governors to discuss local, state, and federal COVID-19 response efforts.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it will extend partnerships with national pharmacy and grocery retail chains to provide access to COVID-19 testing.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published interim considerations for COVID-10 testing in homeless shelters and encampments and issued guidance for “Visiting Beaches and Pools.”
  • The Federal Communications Commission increased funding for its Rural Health Care Program to $802.74 million, the most in the Program’s history.
  • Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced nearly $800 million in grants to 347 airports in 46 States and 4 Territories.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published guidance on the development and licensure of vaccines to prevent COVID-19.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its annual Technology Transfer Report, which highlights agricultural innovations from scientists and researchers.
  • The Department of Education announced the creation of the Rural Tech Project, a competition for high schools and local educational agencies to develop “student-centered technology education” that can be used in rural communities impacted by the coronavirus.
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske announced the agency’s “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure” campaign to contain the spread of COVID-19 and support healthy and secure summer travel.

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

What’s Next

Today the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to advance fiercely debated legislation aimed at preventing online sexual exploitation of children, the so-called EARN IT Act, S. 3398. The bill, as revised by a manager’s amendment, would remove technology companies of liability protections when users knowingly share child sexual abuse material (CSAM) on their platforms.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that the Senate will focus on a Phase 4 coronavirus relief package when it returns from its two-week recess on July 20, with the aim of finishing before the House and Senate depart for their August break. Over recess, staff is expected to begin drafting the next round of relief which is expected to include liability protections as entities continue to reopen.

Following Independence Day, the weeks of July 6 and 13 in the House will be devoted to remote committee work. On July 7, the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment will hold a hearing on examining the impact of COVID-19 on the future of higher education.  The same day, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy will hold a hearing entitled, “Paycheck Security: Economic Perspectives on Alternative Approaches to Protecting Workers’ Pay During COVID-19.”

Relevant Resources

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