COVID-19 Federal Update 4-9-2020
Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 9,648; Tuesday, 10,993; Wednesday 12,911; Thursday, 14,808.
CARES Act Amendment
Democrats Eye Hospital Boost in SBA Loan Boost: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is pressing ahead with a plan for a quick vote today on a $250 billion boost to a small business loan program, putting him at odds with the top Democrats in Congress who want to double the size of an interim stimulus package.
McConnell has offered an amendment to the $2.2 trillion coronavirus response package signed into law last month to boost the total available to the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses to $600 billion.
His plan for quick Senate approval by unanimous consent rests on no objections being raised by Democrats after both Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) proposed another $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion for state and local governments.
The next package “must provide transformational relief as the American people weather this assault on their lives and livelihoods,” the Democratic leaders said. Pelosi said yesterday that McConnell’s plan would not win quick passage in her chamber. “The bill that they put forth doesn’t have, will not get unanimous support in the House. It just won’t,” she told NPR. Pelosi in the same interview said the last stimulus package was similar in size to Republican corporate tax cuts made in 2017. Of the $250 billion being proposed for small businesses, $60 billion should go to community banks and a $50 billion piece to go to disaster loans, she said.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said yesterday the administration opposes Schumer’s and Pelosi’s more expansive plan. Additional rescue funds including for hospitals can be dealt with later on, Mnuchin said. “We can do a phase four, and a phase four would be later.” Read more from Laura Litvan, Billy House and Erik Wasson.
Aid to States Said Falls Short: The Democrats’ latest agenda item comes as the House Oversight and Reform Committee released a report yesterday saying that the federal government has failed to distribute enough personal protective gear and other medical supplies to states. President Donald Trump’s administration is leaving states “to fend for themselves, to scour the open market for these scarce supplies, and to compete with each other,” Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. Read more from Polly Mosendz, Margaret Newkirk and Vincent Del Giudice.
Meanwhile, HHS staff told lawmakers that the agency won’t be shipping any more personal protective equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile to states, according to the statement from the House Oversight Committee, reports Shira Stein. Agency staff told the committee on Tuesday that they have dispersed 90% of the stockpile’s PPE inventory. The remaining 10% would be kept for federal workers, the staff said.
Revisions to Medicare Interest Rates: Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in a bipartisan letter dated yesterday to revise interest rates for health-care providers seeking financial relief during the coronavirus outbreak through Medicare’s Accelerated and Advance Payments Program. “Hospitals, physicians and other health-care providers have significant concerns” about the currently 10.25% interest rate, the lawmakers wrote in their letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma and HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Read the letter here.
Mandatory Cuts to Pay for Stimulus: Congress must start looking at potential cuts to mandatory programs including Social Security and Medicare to help pay for the rising debt the nation is taking on as it responds to the coronavirus, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said. Cramer told CNBC that the crisis is adding to urgency for Congress to look at the mandatory side of the budget for savings to reduce rising debt. “We just have to be willing to bite that bullet and have the adult conversation that a lot of us have been trying to have for a long time.”
Cramer suggested that discussions about changes in mandatory spending may come after the Nov. 3 election. “When you start talking about the insolvency of Social Security, Medicare, or the funding for Medicaid, it becomes very difficult at election time,” he said, Nancy Ognanovich reports.
Plan to Re-Open Economy: Trump’s top health advisers are developing medical criteria for safely opening the U.S. economy in coming weeks if trends showing a crest in cases hold steady. Deborah Birx, the immunologist who coordinates the White House’s pandemic task force, met into the night on Tuesday with Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious diseases expert, CDC Director Robert Redfield, and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn. Absent from the meeting were economic and political advisers to the president, a deliberate signal that the White House’s aim is to prioritize health considerations over economic ones, according to three people, Jennifer Jacobs and Justin Sink report.
Airlines Squeezed by Aid Delays: U.S. airlines’ desperate bid for $29 billion in government rescue cash is being frustrated by a lengthening process and demands that companies provide more detailed financial information, people familiar with the situation said. Carriers that filed April 3 for the grants intended to help meet payroll costs expected the checks to begin arriving days ago, said people familiar with the aid discussions who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Instead, U.S. Treasury officials have asked for another round of data that appears to be more related to a separate loan process instead of the cash grants, further delaying the relief, the people said. The federal stimulus bill provided for carriers to receive payments within 10 days after the law (Public Law 116-136) was signed March 27. That would have been Monday, though the legislation gave Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin discretion on the timing. The additional demand for information was so detailed it would take more than a week to review all the submissions, one person said.
“Treasury’s preliminary guidance did not provide applicants with clear direction on a number of critical items,” two U.S. senators from Illinois, where United Airlines is based, wrote to Mnuchin in a letter yesterday. Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, both Democrats, called on the agency “to make sure the confusing application process doesn’t hamper the ability of applicants to receive the funds intended for them.”
In their letter they asked Treasury for assurance that there would be no delay in applications that had to be refiled because of unclear instructions. They also asked that details of aid distributed be made public, along with the metrics used to allocate it. Read more from Bloomberg News.
Airlines to Cut Summer Flights Up to 90%: U.S. airlines are starting to look past the coronavirus peak, anticipating a world where travelers remain leery about returning to the skies and flights are drastically reduced in the normally robust summer travel season. Companies can cut some routes by as much as 90% through September and eliminate others altogether to avoid flying nearly empty planes under final Transportation Department rules issued Tuesday on minimum domestic flying levels through Sept. 30. Justin Bachman and Mary Schlangenstein list specific airlines’ flight cuts.
Worst-Ever Air Travel Free Fall: Underscoring the urgency of the cuts, the number of people flying in the U.S. dropped to below 100,000 on Tuesday, 95% below the level a year ago, Alan Levin reports. The steady and sustained fall in passengers hasn’t been seen since the dawn of the jet age in the early 1960s, say experts who follow aviation trends. A rebound in air travel could be slow to materialize, a new poll by Public Opinion Strategies suggests. Fewer than half of Americans say they’d be willing to fly within six months of their lives “returning to normal,” according to results released on Tuesday by the firm. Economic data from previous downturns suggests that the practice of lowering fares to spur demand has led to long periods of unprofitability for airlines. For more than a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, airlines went through waves of bankruptcies, layoffs and mergers before rebounding.
Aid to Transit Workers: Twenty senators called on the Federal Transit Administration to help transit agencies protect transit workers by disinfecting crew rooms, implementing rear-door boarding, providing personal protective equipment and encouraging riders to cover their faces. “We believe FTA should explicitly update its guidance and proactively provide support to help transit agencies acquire PPE and provide it to their workers,” they wrote in a letter Tuesday to Acting FTA Administrator K. Jane Williams. Their letter echoed requests from transportation worker unions, who asked Congress to appropriate at least $750 million in funding for transit agencies to buy protective equipment for employees, Courtney Rozen reports.
Japan Carmakers Cut North American Staff: Japan’s three biggest automakers are poised to add almost 32,000 people to the unprecedented ranks of North American workers seeking unemployment benefits, Chester Dawson reports. Toyota said yesterday that it will no longer pay the roughly 5,000 people that temp agencies employ to help staff its idled plants in the region. The company will continue to provide benefits for the time being. The announcement was a day after Japanese peers Honda and Nissan said they would temporarily stop paying all staff at their idled U.S. plants and ask them to file for states’ unemployment benefits. Honda’s decision affects 16,900 employees, while Nissan said it will furlough roughly 10,000 workers.
Research Efforts, Testing and Treatments
Trump Urged to Limit Patent Rights on Ventilators, Treatments: Medical device makers and scientists around the world are waiving their intellectual property rights to encourage companies to restore depleted stockpiles of emergency equipment and develop new tests and treatments for the Covid-19 pandemic. But it might not be enough. Some researchers and lawmakers are calling on President Donald Trump to follow the lead of Germany and Israel in restricting patent rights for work on coronavirus treatments.
“When the lives of a significant population of a country are at stake, it is the inherent sovereign right of a government to override private property rights to protect the lives and health of its citizens,” said Fred Abbott, a Florida State University professor who’s advised the World Health Organization and United Nations on patents and drugs. Trump has asked companies to start producing ventilators and respirators, but his administration has stopped short of taking steps that would give some level of protection from patent lawsuits. Read more from Susan Decker and Malathi Nayak.
Export Ban on Gear Takes Effect Tomorrow: The Trump administration’s ban on exports of some personal protective equipment to fight the pandemic in the U.S. will take effect tomorrow and will be in place for four months, according to the Federal Register, which published the rule yesterday. The U.S. is following a number of other countries that have temporarily halted exports of critical PPE recently. Among them are China, a significant source of the materials, and the European Union. The rule covers five types of protective equipment, including N95 masks, surgical masks and gloves. Read more from Jenny Leonard.
Startups Are 3D-Printing Scarce Ventilator and Test Kit Parts: As the U.S. and other countries warn of a dire shortage of ventilators, testing kits, and protective equipment to deal with the pandemic, an unlikely hero is coming to the rescue: the 3D printing community. 3D tech startups, equipment manufacturers, and even home hobbyists are sharing designs and working with local hospitals and health agencies to provide lifesaving equipment and medical supplies that can be quickly created on gear from the $15 billion niche printing industry. Meanwhile, govern ment regulators, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, are invoking emergency policies to get the equipment to front-line medical staff. Read more from K Oanh Ha.
Anti-Price Gouging Bill: House Energy and Commerce Democrats introduced a bill yesterday to help protect consumers from price gouging amid the outbreak. The legislation, sponsored by Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairwoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and co-sponsored by full committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), would bar the sale of goods at “unconscionably excessive” prices and authorize the Federal Trade Commission to go after price-gougers, Rebecca Kern reports. Read the bill here.
Also yesterday, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) urged the Justice Department to take “vigorous action to protect consumers from price gouging” during the coronavirus outbreak in a letter to Attorney General William Barr. The two senators urged DOJ to aggressively enforce an executive order Trump signed on March 23 to help prevent price gouging conduct. Read their letter here.
DeGette Warns Against Chloroquine Hoarding: House Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee Chairwoman Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) called on the FDA chief in a letter to “take immediate actions to address the dangerous hoarding” of hydroxychloroquine- and chloroquine-based medications normally prescribed to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Trump has touted the drugs as possible treatments for Covid-19, though they haven’t been approved by the FDA for such use. Read her letter here.
2 Million Suits Eyed for Hospitals: Millions of protective coverall suits will soon head to hospitals to shield workers from the virus, the HHS said yesterday. HHS announced a deal with DuPont for expedited delivery of 450,000 protective suits for health-care workers from its manufacturing site in Hanoi, Vietnam. DuPont’s Tyvek suits create a barrier between its wearer and fine particles and chemicals. The department expects to receive a total of 2.25 million of the Tyvek suits over the next five weeks with an option to continue b uying up to a total of 4.5 million suits. Read more from Ayanna Alexander.
Coronavirus May ‘Reactivate’ in Cured Patients, Korean CDC Says: The coronavirus may be “reactivating” in people who have been cured of the illness, according to Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 51 patients classed as having been cured in South Korea have tested positive again, the CDC said in a briefing on Monday. Rather than being infected again, the virus may have been reactivated in these people, given they tested positive again shortly after being released from quarantine, said Jeong Eun-kyeong, director-general of the Korean CD C. Read more from Kyunghee Park.
CDC Issues Critical Worker Protection Guidance: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is changing its guidance for workers in critical industries to say that the people exposed to the coronavirus should return to work if they don’t have symptoms of the illness instead of self-quarantining for 14 days. Workers can return as long as they have no symptoms of the disease, wear a face mask, practice social distancing and monitor their body temperature for fever. There’s no standard, national definition of what constitutes essential work, leaving states and local governments to make those decisions. Read more from Mario Parker.
Fauci ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ Virus Could Plateau Next Week: Covid-19 cases in the U.S. could plateau in the next week, marking a turnaround in the nation’s fight with the coronavirus pandemic, the NIH’s Anthony Fauci said at a White House press briefing yesterday. Fauci made his remarks as the rate of new infections and hospitalizations has slowed in hard-hit New York. More than 6,000 of the nation’s nearly 14,000 deaths have occurred in New York, Bloomberg data show, but the rate of infections is now doubling about every 10 days, down from a peak of every two days. Read more from Jeannie Baumann.
Most NYC Covid-19 Cases Came From Europe, Genome Researchers Say: The explosion of Covid-19 cases in the New York City area resulted largely from infected patients who flew in from Europe, genome scientists say. Researchers at NYU Langone Health said they’ve analyzed 75 samples from patients who were diagnosed with Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, at New York-area hospitals last month.
About two-thirds of the samples appear to have European origins, said Adriana Heguy, director of the Genome Technology Center at the medical center. The virus appears to have been imported to New York from the
U.K. and several European countries, including France, Austria and the Netherlands, she said. Genome sequencers are able to roughly correlate how a virus is spreading around the world by examining small mutations in a gene sequence of the pathogen as it’s transmitted from person to person. In the case of the coronavirus, whose RNA consists of about 30,000 genetic bases, or letters, it mutates about twice a month. Those minor mutations tend not to change the potency of the virus. But they provide clues for genetic detectives to chart how they shift subtly over time, allowing them to create sprawling family trees, or phylogenies, that show how the coronavirus has spread from one part of the world or country to the next.
One of the first cases Heguy’s team sequenced, collected in early March, came from a Long Island resident with no travel history whose viral genome correlated with a strain circulating in England. That suggested the patient had contact with someone who had brought the virus over from the U.K. The findings suggest that even after the Trump administration imposed travel restrictions from China, the virus continued to infiltrate the most populous U.S. city via daily flights from Europe. Not all the New York virus samples have European origins. Some appear to have come from the U.S. West Coast, while others appear to link directly to Asia. That indicates that there are numerous chains of transmission in the metro area, as would be expected in such a large outbreak. The NYU genome center previously had been focused on sequencing for common diseases such as cancer and heart conditions. But in early March it switched to working almost exclusively on Covid-19. “We basically turned our labs into Covid-19 labs overnight,” said Heguy. “That is all we are doing right now.”
FDA Warns of False Advertising for Tests: Dozens of companies making false claims about Covid-19 products meant to test if someone who’s had the virus is now potentially immune to it face enforcement, including potential seizures, the FDA said yesterday. More than 70 test developers have told the FDA they have these types of products, called serological tests, available. However, the agency has approved only one manufacturer, Cellex, through its emergency regulatory channel to use the tests in clinical labs. Read more from Jacquie Lee.
Also yesterday, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Senate Appropriations HHS Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) urged Azar in a letter to affirm that Americans who have recovered from Covid-19 can get free antibody testing, which they say would help restart the U.S. economy sooner. Read their letter here.
HHS Awards $1.3 Billion to Health Centers: Community health centers, which provide primary care to 28 million Americans, will receive $1.3 billion to prevent and treat Covid-19, the HHS announced yesterday. Funds will be divided among 1,387 centers and will help them maintain or increase capacity and staffing, the Department of Health and Human Services said. HHS secured the funding from the latest stimulus measure. Read more from Shira Stein.
Health Insurers Say Virus Costs Could Surpass $500 Billion: Health insurers’ costs for testing and treating Covid-19 could be as high as $556 billion in 2020 and 2021, a trade association for health insurers said yesterday. America’s Health Insurance Plans commissioned Wakely Consulting Group to study Covid-19 costs to U.S. health insurers. Wakely came up with a wide range: $56 billion to $556 billion over the next two years. Read more from Sara Hansard.
Pharmacists OK’d to Test for Covid-19: Pharmacists can administer Covid-19 tests, the HHS announced yesterday, expanding the workforce needed for rapid virus testing and cutting commute times to testing sites. Serology testing is included in pharmacists’ new authority, which will be crucial to quickly reopen the economy and test patients who might be eligible to donate plasma for Covid-19 treatments. Read more from Jacquie Lee.
Biden Looks to Unify Party Ahead of Bruising Fight with Trump
Joe Biden’s most urgent task as the presumptive Democratic nominee will be to unify a divided party for a bruising general election fight against President Donald Trump while the coronavirus consumes voters’ attention and halts traditional campaigning. The more than 16-month nominating contest, in which a historically large field of Democrats presented a range of visions for the country, ended Wednesday with Senator Bernie Sanders quitting the race and leaving the progressive wing without a standard-bearer. Biden, who won the primary with a pitch centered on steady leadership and pragmatism, has to persuade Sanders’s impassioned supporters to not only accept him but actively work to help beat Trump’s well-financed operation. Biden has to walk a tightrope between now and the fall to unite the party’s two wings and maintain that unity, while holding to the centrist positions that earned him the nomination in the first place. The pandemic has made that even trickier, as progressives argue it has laid bare the problems with income inequality and health care that their policies are designed to solve.
Trump, who has canceled his signature rallies but now holds a daily news conference from the White House, has already previewed what the general election campaign will look like. He waded right in moments after Sanders quit the race, tweeting that he “can’t see AOC plus 3” supporting Biden, referring to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three other progressive first-term members of Congress — Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley.
Sanders acknowledged Biden would be the nominee, but he did not explicitly endorse the former vice president. Instead, Sanders said he would stay on the ballots in the remaining states in order to accumulate enough delegates to “exert significant influence over the party platform and other functions.”
The Biden and Sanders camps have had a back-channel conversation over the past several weeks and continue to be engaged in discussions about policy proposals, according to people familiar with the conversations. The main players in those conversations have been Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to Biden, and Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Sanders, but a trio of Biden aides including Symone Sanders, Stef Feldman and Cristobal Alex have also played significant roles in outreach to the party’s left wing. Symone Sanders now serves as a senior adviser to Biden, but she was Bernie Sanders’ press secretary in 2016 and still maintains close relationships with many of his aides and allies.
Sanders’s message of a political revolution, buoyed by a progressive agenda that called for Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, found a foothold with young voters across the country. He consistently outperformed Biden among young voters, who Democrats see as critical to to defeating Trump. A number of prominent progressive organizations, including NextGen America, Justice Democrats and the Sunrise Movement, implored Biden on Wednesday to adopt their policies and promise to appoint progressive leaders.
“While you are now the presumptive Democratic nominee, it is clear that you were unable to win the votes of the vast majority of voters under 45 years old during the primary,” the organizations wrote. “With young people poised to play a critical role deciding the next president, you need to have more young people enthusiastically supporting and campaigning with you to defeat Trump. This division must be reconciled so we can unite the party to defeat Trump.”
The letter asks that Biden support Medicare for All, adopt the framework of the Green New Deal, support a wealth tax, support abolishing the filibuster and expanding the Supreme Court. It also asks Biden to commit to appointing progressive leaders who endorsed Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren as co-chairs of his transition team if he is elected and pledge to not appoint current or former Wall Street executives or corporate lobbyists to senior roles in his administration.
Biden is adamant in his opposition to Medicare for All, instead preferring to expand the Affordable Care Act with a public option, and he is unlikely to adopt the most progressive policies. However, over the past month, he expressed his support for Warren’s bankruptcy proposal, which they had battled over, and he proposed making public colleges and universities tuition-free for many students, embracing a means-tested version of Sanders’s plan.
“Vice President Biden and our campaign have been engaging with progressive leaders,” Feldman, Biden’s policy director, said in a statement. “We are continuously considering additional policies that build on his existing policies and further the bold goals driving Vice President Biden’s campaign.” Read more by Tyler Pager and Jennifer Epstein.
Other News Stories
More Disapprove of Trump’s Virus Agenda: Americans are beginning to sour on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, according to a poll by Monmouth University released yesterday. Forty-nine percent of survey respondents say Trump was doing a bad job with the pandemic, while 46% said he has done a good job. That is down from a Monmouth University poll two weeks ago finding that 45% of Americans disapproved of Trump’s handling of the crisis, and 50% approved.
Trump’s overall performance rating has stayed largely the same. The poll found that 49% disapproved of his job as president, while last month the number was 48%, well within the poll’s 3.4 point margin of error. Some 44% approved of the job he’s doing now, down slightly from 46% in March. And more respondents—43%—said they trusted their governor more than the president on coronavirus information. Fifteen percent say they trust Trump more, Emma Kinery reports.
Altria Vape Exit Before Juul Deal Draws Suit: Altria Group and Juul Labs were hit with antitrust claims in a Los Angeles federal court over Altria’s exit from the tobacco vaping market—as part of its $12.8 billion agreement to acquire 35% of Juul. The suit comes just a few days after the Federal Trade Commission sued to unwind the deal. The proposed consumer class action concerns Juul’s “stunning” climb between 2015 and 2018, by which time it dominated three-quarters of the vaping industry, displacing many of the e-cigarette products sold b y traditional tobacco companies. Read more from Mike Leonard.
Probe Into Treatment of Pregnant Migrants Sought: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and 12 other senators called on the Homeland Security Department Office of Inspector General to “immediately investigate continued disturbing reports that pregnant detainees are severely mistreated” under U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody. The members urged DHS’s inspector general Joseph Cuffari to investigate complaints of border agents “delaying or denying medical care to pregnant people,” among other alleged abuses. Read their letter here.
States Ask Court to Reconsider Abortion ‘Gag Rule’ Decision: States suing the federal government over restrictions on taxpayer-funded family planning services want an appeals court to reconsider its decision upholding the policy. The lawsuit was filed by multiple states, cities, and private organizations seeking to roll back a HHS rule that forbids family planning clinics from performing abortions or referring patients elsewhere for the procedure. Providers that want to offer abortion services must do so in facilities that are physically and financially separate from the tax-funded clinic, which they say is tantamount to being gagged. Read more from Lydia Wheeler.
Autonomous Car Bill Push: Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee renewed their push for self-driving car legislation in a statement yesterday, arguing that the cars could help people stock up on food without exposing themselves to the coronavirus, Courtney Rozen reports. The committee is working on a bill with the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that would create a path to federal regulation of the technology, though they haven’t introduced the legislation yet.
White House Reviews Water Rule: The Environmental Protection Agency sent the draft of a final water quality rule to the White House Office of Management on Tuesday for an interagency review, usually the last step before a rule or policy is released to the public. The rule eases states’ power to veto pipeline and other infrastructure projects due to water quality concerns, by discouraging coastal states from relying on Section 401 provisions in the Clean Water Act to block oil and gas pipelines, coal export terminals, and other fossil fuel projects that pass through their states. Amena H. Saiyid explains what’s next for the rule.
Airlines Bid to Cut Pollution Cost: Industry group International Air Transport Association has requested a rule change to a global system that’s set to limit their pollution starting next year. Airlines want to make 2019 the only baseline year against which the airline’s carbon emissions are measured to relive costs of compliance, instead of the original plans to have baseline emissions measured over 2019 and 2020.
By including this year in the baseline, airlines would need to buy extra emission credits to cover their greenhouse gas output starting in 2021. Developers of emissions-cutting projects like wind and solar farms had planned to make facilities that generate carbon credits that they could sell to the airlines to cover compliance in the system. Without demand for those credits, the market won’t generate funds for projects or put pressure on airlines to rein in the greenhouse gases they produce. The International Civil Aviation Organization said it would consider the baseline question at a meeting of its governing council in June. Mathew Carr forecasts either outcome of the group’s decision.
Class Status Sought in Alaska Airlines Military Suit: A pilot who accused Alaska Airlines of denying sick and vacation leave to employees who serve in the military asked a federal judge in Seattle to certify a class of about 360 pilots. Leo Synoracki on Tuesday filed a motion for class certification in his lawsuit accusing the airline of violating the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, the federal law granting benefit and job protections to workers who take time off for military service. Synoracki says hundreds of Alaska Airlines pilots were illegally denied sick and vacation leave for periods they spent completing military service. Jacklyn Wille has more on the case.
Today on the Hill
- 10:00 am – In-House Pool Call Time
- 12:30 pm: The President has lunch with the Secretary of State
- 2:30 pm – President participates in a phone call with Mental Health Leaders and Advocates
- 5:00 pm – Members of the Coronavirus Task Force hold a press briefing
- On recess and scheduled to return April 20th
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will press ahead with his plan for a quick vote on a $250b boost in a small business aid program over opposition from Democrats
- On recess
Legislative Updates from Yesterday
- H.R.6464 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)To amend title 23, United States Code, to require transportation planners to consider projects and strategies to improve safe and convenient access to employment by all modes of travel for all users, and for other purposes. Latest Action: House – 04/08/2020 Referred to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.
- H.R.6465 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)To waive certain provisions in the case of an emergency declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Latest Action: House – 04/08/2020 Referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management.
- H.R.6469 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)To deauthorize a portion of the project for flood control and navigation, San Diego River and Mission Bay, San Diego County, California. Latest Action: House – 04/08/2020 Referred to the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment