The Latest

With the Senate back in session this week, Republican leaders were expected to unveil their Phase 4 coronavirus relief proposal, but Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) announced this evening that while Republicans have reached “an agreement in principle with the Administration,” he will not bring legislation to the floor until next week. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows met with Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY) yesterday, marking the beginning of what are expected to be contentious negotiations. However, the White House and congressional Republicans and Democrats are united in their goal to pass a Phase 4 bill before Congress leaves for the August recess.

Today, the House began consideration of H.R. 7608, a “minibus” FY21 appropriations package consisting of the State and Foreign Operations, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Agriculture and Interior and Environment spending bills. Floor action for the second minibus is scheduled for next week, though leaders are under pressure to pull the Homeland Security bill from the package. This week, the House also passed the $750.5 billion National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 6395) in a veto-proof 295-125 vote. Today, the Senate approved its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 in an 86-14 vote. The President has threatened to veto it if it includes directives to rename military installations named after people associated with the Confederacy, among other provisions.

Both chambers continue 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 protecting Americans from COVID-19 scamsefforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccinea look at racial health disparities, seniors and COVID-19getting veterans back to work after COVID-19the State Department’s COVID-19 responseexamining the national response to the worsening pandemic:capital access for small minority businessesproviding for economic recovery from COVID-19how to safely reopen public schools, and FEMA’s preparedness and response efforts during the pandemic.

Also this week, the Treasury Department published Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) lender application forms for 1) federally insured depository institutions, federally insured credit unions, and farm credit system institutions and 2) non-bank and non-insured depository institution lenders and the Small Business Administration (SBA) updated its summary of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Round 2 data.

What’s Next

With text now not expected until Monday at the earliest, there will be a race to find consensus on a Phase 4 COVID relief package that can pass both chambers – and that the President will sign – before Congress aims to leave Washington the first week of August for recess.

In the meantime, Senate and House committees have scheduled a number of COVID-19-related hearings next week on topics including oversight of COVID-19 financial relief packages, a review of private sector telework policiesprotecting the reliability of the US medical supply chainreducing uncertainty and restoring confidence, and kick starting entrepreneurship and main street economic recovery.

Elsewhere, while the House is moving forward with FY21 appropriations, the Senate has not yet begun the process, all but guaranteeing Congress will have just a handful of legislative days in September to avert a government shutdown at the end of the fiscal year.

Relevant Resources

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