COVID-19 Federal Update 5-12-20
Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: (last Friday, 76,942), Monday 80,787, Tuesday 81,796
Happening on the Hill
- 10:00 am – Senate Banking Committee hears from Fed Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles, Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams and National Credit Union Administration chief Rodney Hood at oversight hearing
- 10:00 am – Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee hears from the National Institute of Health’s Dr. Anthony Fauci, Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield, and Food and Drug Commissioner Stephen Hahn on getting back to work and school after the Covid-19 crisis
- 2:30pm – Senate Banking Committee votes on nomination of Brian Miller to be the Treasury’s special inspector general for the pandemic recovery
- 2:30pm – Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearing on liability during the coronavirus pandemic
- Supreme Court scheduled to hear a set of cases involving subpoenas for President Trump’s financial records
Future Coronavirus Stimulus
Democrats Ready Stimulus Proposal: House Democrats are still drafting their plan for another round of economic stimulus, legislation that could top $2 trillion, but the bill won’t be ready for a vote before Friday, Bloomberg News’ Erik Wasson and Billy House report. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told fellow Democrats on a private conference call that the legislation was still being drawn up from proposals submitted by rank and file members last week, according to lawmakers and aides. With House lawmakers away from Washington, the earliest possible vote would be Friday, and that schedule could slip into next week.
The centerpiece of the Democrats’ virus relief plan is almost $1 trillion in aid state and local governments. It’s also likely to include another round of cash payments to individuals following up on the $1,200 most people received from a March stimulus bill. Also under discussion are expanded unemployment benefits, money for Covid-19 testing, food stamp funding, rental assistance and student loan forgiveness.
Trump Tries to Wait on More Stimulus But Virus Pressure Mounts: Trump and allies are holding off on more coronavirus-related stimulus as his team tracks the impact of some $5 trillion already poured into the economy — and banks on an economic rebound as shutdown measures are eased. But they may find themselves under more pressure to act again, sooner than they expected, if efforts to reopen the economy don’t rapidly bear fruit.
Democrats and a handful of Republicans are seeking a fourth round of stimulus, particularly to help states faced with massive budget deficits. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), working with Senate Democrats, has been advocating a massive aid package to get the economy restarted. The House may vote on that legislation as soon as Friday. Trump has expressed skepticism over helping states with large pension obligations, while pushing for a payroll tax cut that’s opposed by most Democrats and some Republicans. Read more from Josh Wingrove and Saleha Mohsin.
Democrats Unveil Medicare Loans Bill: Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) today will push to include in the next coronavirus response legislation a modification of Medicare’s advanced payment program to assist the thousands of doctors and hospitals that have taken out nearly $100 billion in upfront payments since March. Their bill would allow the federal government to forgive some of the upfront payments due to hardship and lower the interest rates on the upfront payments.
Shaheen and Bennet are the latest to push to lower the interest rate on the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payments Program, to 1% from as high as 10.25%. The bill would also allow doctors to more easily pay back the upfront payments to Medicare by limiting the portion of Medicare reimbursement that may be withheld by the government to pay down the upfront payment to 25% of the otherwise applicable payment for the service, Shaheen’s office said.
Since expanding the advance payment program in late March, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have approved $59.6 billion in payments to 21,000 hospitals and other Medicare Part A health-care providers, and $40.4 billion in payments to 24,000 doctors and other Part B providers, CMS said.
Modifying the advance payment program has seen bipartisan support: Shaheen and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) sent a letter last month to federal health officials asking them to lower the interest rate on the upfront payments, Alex Ruoff reports.
Treasury’s Stances on Virus Relief Draw Ire: Narrow tax guidance on some parts of recently enacted coronavirus relief has sparked criticism that the IRS and Treasury aren’t interpreting the law correctly
If you’re looking for a real-time list of public companies who have received SBA Cares Act loans, AI Margaret rom Factsquared has been reading SEC 8-Ks as they’re filed.
Reopening of the States
Fauci, Health Experts Testify on Reopening: Top U.S. health officials will discuss how to safely restart the economy before a Senate committee Tuesday, with three of the four witnesses — including Anthony Fauci — and the panel’s chairman all appearing remotely because of potential exposure to coronavirus.
The circumstances of the Health Committee hearing, which will include Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, and Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accentuates the difficulty the U.S. faces as states move to let businesses reopen and encourage consumers to go out and spend.
Amid the sharpest downturn in U.S. history, President Donald Trump has been pressing to begin relaxing the lockdowns that have shuttered businesses despite warnings from some public health experts that doing so too quickly risks a further spread of the virus.
“I want it to reopen safely, but I want it to reopen,” Trump said at a White House news conference Monday, where he and other administration officials insisted there’s enough testing available to support limited efforts to reopen the country.
But Fauci indicated late Monday that he plans to issue a stern warning against cutting corners on standards set by the administration. These include thresholds such as a “downward trajectory” of documented cases or positive tests “within a 14-day period.” Trump has urged governors to move toward easing their lockdowns even though many states don’t meet those standards.
Citing “the danger of trying to open the country prematurely,” Fauci said in an email to a New York Times reporter, “If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to ‘Open America Again,’ then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal.”
Plans for the hearing took an abrupt twist on Sunday when Fauci, Redfield and a third witness — Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn — all said they had come into contact with a member of the White House staff who tested positive for the coronavirus and were in full or partial quarantine. Read more from Laura Litvan.
House Coronavirus Oversight Panel to Focus on U.S. Reopening: A new House panel created to oversee coronavirus relief spending will focus its first briefing on requirements to safely reopen the American economy during the coronavirus pandemic.
Among participants at the hearing on Wednesday will be former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, one of the authors of a report released in late March by the conservative American Enterprise Institute, “National Coronavirus Response: A Road Map to Reopening.” Gottlieb served as head of the FDA under President Donald Trump until April of last year. A co-author of that report, Mark McClellan, a former commissioner of the FDA and former administrator for the Centers for Medic are and Medicaid Services, also plans to take part in the hearing. Read more from Billy House.
White House to Distribute $11 Billion for Tests: The Trump administration is planning to distribute $11 billion to states for coronavirus testing, according to senior administration officials. The $11 billion is part of the CARES Act stimulus package (Public Law 116-136). It will be distributed under by a formula that reflects states’ burden of Covid-19 as well as population-based estimates, the officials said yesterday. The administration plans to release details about the distribution in the next day or two, the officials said, Emma Court reports.
Hospitals Losing $60 Billion a Month: U.S. hospitals are losing an estimated $60.1 billion a month and facing an 113% increase in uninsured patients during the outbreak, according to a new study. The heavy losses reflect a 54% drop in patient visits due primarily to the cancellations of normally more lucrative non-emergency and elective procedures, according to data from 2 million patient encounters in 40 states compiled by Strata Decision Technology, which provides financial analytics for the health-care industry, Tony Pugh reports.
Meanwhile, after an initial spate of dire warnings of massive costs related to the coronavirus, earnings calls for health insurers so far are showing they did well due to those cancellations of procedures and doctor’s office visits. But analysts are struggling to foresee whether insurers will escape higher costs due to deferred care, or whether they will be hit by a double whammy of big costs for Covid-19, such as post-acute care, and expenses to treat those who didn’t get care when needed. Sara Hansard has more.
Trump Declares ‘We Have Prevailed’ on Testing: Trump declared yesterday at a White House news conference on the coronavirus that “we have prevailed,” as U.S. deaths from the virus exceeded 80,000, a remark he later said pertained only to testing for the infection. “Thanks to the courage of our citizens and our aggressive strategy, hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved,” he said.
There have been over 1.3 million cases of Covid-19 in the U.S., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The U.S. didn’t exceed 100,000 tests performed until March 19, according to data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project, but more than 300,000 tests were conducted daily on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Health and Human Services Department’s No. 2 official, Brett Giroir, added that the U.S. should shortly be on pace to conduct 9 million tests per month. Justin Sink and Mario Parker have more.
Trump to Visit Pennsylvania Medical Equipment Supplier Thursday: Trump will visit the factory of Owens and Minor, a medical equipment distributor, in Allentown, Pa., on Thursday, according to a White House official, Ben Livesey and Jordan Fabian report. Trump will tour a distribution center and is expected to discuss the administration’s efforts to utilize the national strategic stockpile to support Covid 19 testing.
Trump Says He Ordered Staff to Wear Masks: Trump said yesterday that he demanded that everyone entering the West Wing wear a face mask, after Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary tested positive for coronavirus infection last week. The White House made the announcement in a memo addressed to staff yesterday, saying employees didn’t need face coverings while working at their desks. Trump told reporters that he “required” the memo.
“We’ve had just about everybody I’ve seen today has worn a mask,” Trump said. The memo from the White House’s Management Office says: “Staff who sit in the West Wing are not required to wear a facial covering while at their desk if they are appropriately socially distanced from their colleagues.” Justin Sink and Jennifer Jacobs have more.
NIH Director Talks Vaccines, Virus Mutation and Clinical Trials: Several vaccines will likely be needed to combat the coronavirus and immunize groups of people in America and abroad, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins said in an interview. Collins discussed efforts to develop and manufacture a vaccine, potential mutations and what they mean for immunity, and how inoculations would be tested.
“My expectation is, and I am a bit of an optimist, that we don’t find out that there’s only one of these vaccines that works, but rather two or three of them come through the trials looking as though they’re safe and effective,” Collins said. “They’ll have somewhat different characteristics of where they work best, so we might need to do some matching then of which vaccine goes to which particular population.”
Collins said there’s enough money to rapidly manufacture 100 million vaccine doses by late fall and 300 million before January. The first people to get a vaccine will likely be frontline health workers and those with chronic conditions that put them at greater risk from the illness. Later, Collins said, the U.S. government will have to increase manufacturing to meet global demand, and distribute vaccines to countries particularly hard-hit by the virus. Read more from Riley Griffin.
N.Y.C. Saw 24,172 More Deaths Than Normal: New York City had four times the number of deaths as expected during its Covid-19 outbreak, according to a new study, including thousands of excess deaths that might not be attributed directly to the virus but to its effect on the health-care system, city services and other factors. From March 11 through May 2, there was a total of 32,107 deaths, 24,172 more that the city would have expected in that time based on previous trends, according to a report from New York’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that was published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read more from Michelle Fay Cortez.
Gilead’s Drug Seen in Short Supply for Americans: The U.S. will get less than half of Gilead Sciences’s worldwide donation of 1.5 million vials of its Covid-19 medicine over the next six weeks, which isn’t expected to be enough to treat all the patients who would qualify for it. Gilead is donating about 607,000 vials of its remdesivir in the U.S. during that time frame. That’s enough to treat 78,000 hospitalized patients, according to the Health and Human Services Department. “Initial supply of remdesivir is likely to be constrained to an even greater degree than we had previously estimated,” RBC analyst Brian Abrahams wrote in a note to clients. He said that he expected 80% of Gilead’s donation to be distributed in the U.S. With less than 50,000 going out in the first two shipments, the rollout was also slower than what he was expecting. Read more from Cristin Flanagan.
FEMA Shifts PPE Buying Power: The Federal Emergency Management Agency is handing over some of its responsibilities for acquiring pandemic supplies to the Defense Logistics Agency, a subset of the Defense Department, according to a FEMA spokesperson. The Defense Logistics Agency will coordinate longer-term purchasing of supplies, like personal protective equipment, the spokesperson said. That agency manages the supply chain for the entire U.S. military and has extensive experience in the area. Read more from Shira Stein.
Trump will visit the factory of Owens and Minor, a medical equipment distributor, in Allentown, Pa., on Thursday, according to a White House official. Trump will tour a distribution center and is expected to discuss the administration’s efforts to utilize the national strategic stockpile to support Covid 19 testing, Jordan Fabian reports.
States Test Corpses at Nursing Homes: Coast to coast, state governors have intensified efforts to get accurate coronavirus death counts at nursing homes, as investigations suggest far more devastation than initially recorded. Nursing homes account for at least a third of the nation’s 76,000 Covid-19 fatalities, and in 14 states, they are over half the total, according to Kaiser Family Foundation data. Those numbers though are woefully incomplete because 18 states aren’t disclosing such data—and those that are provide varying levels of information. Read more from Elise Young and Keshia Clukey.
Hospitals Offered $1.9 Billion in 2021 Incentives: Medicare would make $1.9 billion available for value-based incentive payments to hospitals in fiscal 2021 under a payment rule proposal released yesterday. Further, Medicare payments to hospitals for uncompensated care would fall by $534 million in fiscal 2021, according to the plan by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The proposed changes would update three factors that determine the payments. The 1,600-page rule proposal also calls for a new Medicare hospital payment category for CAR-T cell therapy treatments, which use a patient’s genetically modified cells to treat certain cancers. The new inpatient payment category would help standardize payment rates for hospitals that offer CAR-T therapy, the CMS said. Read more from Tony Pugh.
More HIV Deaths Foreseen Amid Shortages: The World Health Organization and UNAIDS estimated that a six-month disruption of supplies of antiretroviral therapies could lead to 500,000 extra deaths from HIV in sub-Saharan Africa if countries don’t take action. That’s more than the total number of deaths from HIV in the region in 2018. About 25.7 million people live with HIV in that area, where supplies may be disrupted because HIV services are closed or because of shortages. Some antiretrovirals are being used to treat Covid-19. Read more.
Split on Transit; Aviation Aid Query The debate over whether Congress should award more money to transit systems is unfolding along partisan lines. A group of 15 of the nation’s larger transit agencies are asking Congress for an extra $32 billion to cover coronavirus related expenses, higher than the nearly $24 billion requested last week by the American Public Transportation Association. Key Democrats, including House Transportation Chairman Peter DeFazio (Ore.) and House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (N.Y.), support giving transit agencies more money, though neither gave a specific figure. Hurdles may arise in the Republican-controlled Senate, but Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), who leads the Senate Banking Committee that oversees transit, declined to comment on the issue yesterday. His colleague, Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), hasn’t taken a position on the transit request, either.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is leading the coalition of public transportation agencies — which includes those with the highest ridership per capita in the country such as New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. The proposal is backed by the Transport Workers Union, who said in a letter to Congress that the $23.8 billion APTA requested was “too conservative.” Congress already allocated $25 billion to transit agencies under the third coronavirus relief law (Public Law 116-136). As of Friday night, the Federal Transit Administration had awarded about $7.5 billion of that money, with the largest grant going to New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority at $3.9 billion.
GOP Sens. Questions Mnuchin on Aviation Relief: As lawmakers conduct oversight of the stimulus program, Crapo and Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker (Miss.) are asking Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to provide reports on how his department is providing assistance and loans to the aviation industry, Vivek Shankar reports. “We request that you characterize the overall scope of any warrants, equity, or debt instruments” the Treasury Department used in connection with the aviation industry, they wrote in their letter. Mnuchin will return to Capitol Hill to brief senators on the status of the economic recovery on May 19, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. While Schumer didn’t give details on the upcoming briefing, he said the planned testimony should have been held weeks ago instead of almost two months after the $2.2 trillion CARES Act was enacted.
Covid-19 Effects on TSA Budget, Operations: Wicker also sent a letter yesterday to various transportation stakeholders on how the pandemic may affect the Transportation Security Administration’s fiscal 2021 budget, as well as how the CARES Act and other legislation affects the agency’s operations and programs. “Undoubtedly, this pandemic will change budget priorities, particularly for the air and surface transportation sectors,” he wrote. “In addition to the President’s budget request, I would appreciate your thoughts on the CARES Act and its implications for TSA operations. The CARES Act provided TSA with $100 million for janitorial services at checkpoints and other airport common areas to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.”
Relief Sought for USPS: Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), along with other New York representatives, sent a letter yesterday urging congressional leaders to provide emergency funding for the U.S. Postal Service in future Covid-19 relief packages. “Without immediate help, the Postal Service—a vital staple of American society since 1775—could cease to function by this summer. This crisis is also affecting the State of New York more than any other. There were 287 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 14 deaths among postal workers in New York as of April 20,” they wrote in a letter to House and Senate leaders.
Federal Aviation Guidelines for Covid-19 Floated: The top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee joined her colleagues yesterday in calling for national aviation coronavirus standards. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) asked the White House coronavirus task force to implement uniform procedures for tasks such as screening travelers for symptoms, cleaning surfaces, and minimizing contact between passengers during flights. Last week, Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) proposed creating a pandemic task force on air travel.
Consolidating Flights Meets Angry Travelers Seeking Room: U.S. airlines are grappling with one outcome of the deep schedule cuts they’ve made in response to near-zero travel demand: Many of the flights that remain are beginning to fill up, complicating social distancing guidelines and angering some passengers. While carrier traffic is still down by about 90% from typical levels, not everyone has stopped flying. More than 215,000 people traversed U.S. checkpoints on May 8, the highest since March 25, the Transportation Security Administration said.
As air travel gradually returns in the pandemic era, airlines will face a fraught choice: Continue on board social-distancing by limiting cabin occupancy and increasing scheduled flights, or keep the number of trips in line with demand, which could lead to more crowded planes but also financially benefit cash-strapped carriers. Read more from Justin Bachman and Mary Schlangenstein.
Airlines Struggle for Profit as Travel Dips: Corporate travel, crucial to global airline revenue, will likely come under pressure in both the short term and long term as varying quarantine and border rules in different countries create litigation risks and virtual meetings replace some business trips, Richard Weiss reports, citing an analysis by Citi. Corporate travel could be secularly impaired by about 25% compared with 2019 levels, according to the analysts. Every 1% reduction in global corporate travel volume reduces global airline profit by 10%, everything else being equal, meaning airlines will struggle to remain profitable even on lower fuel bills. They project that the majority of global long-haul airlines could undergo a nationalization process over coming years, resulting in a Mid East-like situation where destinations and jobs are largely controlled by governments.
Defiant Musk to Reopen Car Plant: Elon Musk said Tesla is flouting the California county that has blocked its efforts to reopen its only U.S. car plant by restarting production at the facility. “I will be on the line with everyone else,” the chief executive officer said in a tweet yesterday. “If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.” Tesla told production workers earlier it was getting back to work at its factory in Fremont, Calif., after a high-pitched battle with local officials who blocked the plant from reopening last week. Valerie Capers Workman, Tesla’s head of North American human resources, said in an email to production workers that their furlough ended Sunday and that managers will contact them within 24 hours with their start date and schedule. The email conflicted with remarks California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) made during his daily press briefing yesterday. He said he expected the company’s plant would be able to reopen as early as next week.
Nightmare at Sea Ends In Death for Some Cruise Ship Workers: Lauren Carrick and fiance Joe Harrison haven’t had a good night’s sleep in weeks. The two dancers on Celebrity Cruises’s Infinity say being held aboard ships for almost two months has left them emotionally drained. “I cried all day,” said Carrick, 29. “We need to have alcohol to sleep — that’s how bad it is. We’re worried, tense, stressed out. We just want to get home.” Carrick and Harrison are among the more than 90,000 cruise workers in U.S. waters stranded on ships two months after the coronavirus pandemic began forcing cruise lines to halt operations and repatriate crew. While companies work through a thicket of shifting rules on returning workers to their home countries, recent deaths of crew have shook the industry and underscored concern about mental health. Read more from K. Oanh Ha and Jonathan Levin.
Major Car Dealer Says the Recovery Is Underway: AutoNation, the biggest car-dealership chain in the U.S., said consumers’ desire to travel again and do so in their own personal space is driving the industry’s rebound from the coronavirus pandemic, Gabrielle Coppola reports. Demand started to pick up at the end of April as shutdown orders eased, CEO Mike Jackson said yesterday after the retailer reported first-quarter profit that beat analyst estimates. The comments comport with market researcher J.D. Power’s findings that retail sales declines have moderated for five consecutive weeks.
Limits on Crude-by-Rail Vapor Pressure Scrapped: The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has withdrawn a proposed rule limiting vapor pressure for unrefined petroleum products and other flammable liquids that are transported by rail, according to statement. The decision follows a study by Sandia National Laboratories that concluded “imposing vapor pressure limits would not reduce the risks of transporting crude oil and other flammable liquids by rail,” the agency said. The agency also determined that federal law preempts Washington state’s vapor pressure requirement, Stephen Cunningham reports.
DHS Head Traveling to Southwest: Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf travels to Nogales, Ariz. today to visit the city’s Commercial Port of Entry and take an aerial tour of new wall construction along the southwest border. Afterwards, Wolf will travel to Tucson to visit a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility. Tomorrow Wolf will travel to San Diego, Calif. for a tour of the San Ysidro Port of Entry and another aerial tour of the border wall.
- Democrat Christy Smith faces Republican Mike Garcia in special election for California’s 25th district, formerly held by Democrat Katie Hill who resigned last year
- Democrats Labor to Keep California Seat in Mail Election Tuesday
- Trump endorsed Garcia and urged voters to cast their ballots for the Republican
- There’s also a special election for Wisconsin’s seventh district after the resignation of Republican Sean Duffy last year
- Republican state Sen. Tom Tiffany is favored to defeat Democrat Tricia Zunker, a Wausau school board member and law professor
- Trump won the district by 20 percentage points in the 2016 election, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Government
Trump Edges Biden in Fundraising Totals: Trump’s re-election effort raised $61.7 million in April, narrowly topping Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee in the first full month of lockdown fundraising. “While day-to-day life may have slowed this past month, enthusiasm and support for this president has not,” Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, said in a statement. The combined total raised by Trump, the RNC and their supporting committees was just shy of their $63 million haul in March. Biden announced earlier Monday that his campaign and the DNC raised $60.5 million in April. Read more from Bill Allison.
DNC Seeks to Allow Remote Participation at Convention: The Democratic National Committee is considering allowing delegates to the nominating convention to participate remotely while giving organizers free rein to make whatever changes are necessary to “protect the public safety” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The new rules, which will first be voted on today by the Rules and Bylaws Committee before going to all DNC members for a vote, could dramatically change the scale of the party’s convention, scheduled to begin on Aug. 17. Officials said the convention planners were exploring a range of options to ensure all delegates would be able to cast ballots, regardless of their ability to participate in person. The resolution would also confirm that the convention committee’s “authority to plan, arrange, m anage and conduct the convention includes the ability to alter the date and other aspects of the convention in order to protect the public safety and ensure compliance with applicable laws.” Read more from Tyler Pager.
Stacey Abrams Endorses Biden for President: Stacey Abrams, the former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, has endorsed Biden for president, pointing to his commitment to fighting climate change, leading an economic recovery and protecting every eligible American’s right to vote.
“While marginalized communities struggle under Donald Trump’s failed leadership and people of color face disproportionate consequences of COVID-19, Joe Biden will take no one for granted,” Abrams says in a statement about the presumptive Democratic nominee Biden. Abrams was Georgia’s Democratic candidate for governor in 2018 and the first African-American woman to become the gubernatorial nominee for a major U.S. party. She has expressed interest in being Biden’s presidential running mate, Deana Kjuka reports.
Reade Team Asks Biden for Delaware Archive: An attorney for Tara Reade yesterday asked Biden to authorize a search of his archives of Senate papers at the University of Delaware for records related to Reade’s accusation that Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993. “Given that you have repeatedly made a blanket denial of any knowledge of any complaint made by Ms. Reade against you, I am sure you would agree that we all deserve to know whether there are, in fact, any records that corroborate Ms. Reade’s allegations in your Archives,” Reade’s lawyer Doug Wigdor wrote. Jeffrey Taylor has more.
Defense Bill Passage Seen Likely by July 4: The Senate is on track to be in a position to pass the fiscal 2021 national defense authorization bill by the July 4th holiday, according to a Senate aide familiar with the matter. An aide for the Senate Armed Services Committee said the panel still has to write the bill, which authorizes spending and sets Pentagon policy. Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) has said the panel would try to mark up the measure the week of May 18, but that is no longer the plan. Read more from Roxana Tiron.
Senate Joins Calls for Taiwan to Regain WHO Observer Status: The Senate yesterday unanimously approved a bill seeking the restoration of Taiwan’s observer status with the World Health Organization, escalating an international campaign to push back against Chinese efforts to isolate the island. The bipartisan measure calls on the State Department to report about Taiwan’s participation as an observer at the World Health Assembly — a key WHO decision-making body set to meet next week. The bill, which hasn’t yet been passed by the House, would also direct Se cretary of State Michael Pompeo to explain any department plans to help Taipei reclaim its observer status. Read more from Karen Leigh and Nancy Ognanovich.
Cruz Seeks to End Dependence on China for Rare Earths: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said he plans to introduce legislation today that aims to end U.S. reliance on China for rare earth elements used in the manufacturing of products including consumer electronics, electric vehicles and fighter planes. The bill is part of a push in Congress to shift supply chains, particularly in industries critical for national defense, away from China and back toward the U.S. Read more from Daniel Flatley.
Park Reopenings Spur Debate: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park that sprawls across 522,427 acres of North Carolina and Tennessee may seem like the perfect place to practice social distancing. Yet visitors to its lush, mountainous terrain tend to congregate at well-known spots like Clingmans Dome, where they can stand at the highest point in Tennessee, or Grotto Falls, where they can walk behind a waterfall. That tendency has park advocates and former employees worrying about its reopening last weekend — and the plan for other national parks to follow in coming weeks at the urging of Trump — even as coronavirus infections nationwide continue to climb. Read more from Jennifer A. Dlouhy.
Companies Cry Foul in Food-Box Contracts Derby: The Agriculture Department is shelling out more than $1.2 billion for food boxes designed to relieve Americans’ hunger and farmers’ sales losses during the coronavirus pandemic. One of the biggest awards —$39 million—will go to a Texas event manager that specializes in weddings. Megan U. Boyanton has more on the loans’s winners and losers.
White House Cuts Off Fund’s Investment in China Stocks: The Trump administration moved on last night to block investments in Chinese stocks by a government retirement savings fund. National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien made the administration’s wishes known in a letter to Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, according to a person familiar with the matter, Justin Sink and Jenny Leonard report.
Facebook Violence Curbs Thwarted by Code Words: Membership in Facebook groups focused on violent anti-government uprisings in the U.S. has doubled in recent weeks as the coronavirus pandemic has spread and governments impose restrictions aimed at slowing the contagion. To get their message across, these groups are exploiting loopholes in Facebook anti-violence policies. Read more from Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou and Alyza Sebenius.
Today on the Hill
- 11:00 am – In-House Pool Call Time and Pence leads a governors’ video teleconference on Covid-19 response
- 12:00 pm – Trump receives his intelligence briefing
- 2:00 pm – Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany holds a briefing
- 4:00 pm – Trump meets with Republican members of the Senate
- 10:30 am – Senate meets and resumes consideration of Brian Montgomery to be deputy HUD sec.
The chamber this week may take up legislation that would reinstate some expired surveillance programs; a measure targeting human rights abuses in China is also a possible candidate for floor action
- House leaders last week abandoned plans to reconvene today, citing concern about Covid-19 spread
Both chambers are trying to figure out next steps on response to the coronavirus
Yesterday’s Legislative Action
- H.R.6745— 116th Congress (2019-2020)To prohibit implementation of a rule defining “waters of the United States” under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, and for other purposes.Sponsor: Rep. DeFazio, Peter A. [D-OR-4] (Introduced 05/08/2020) Cosponsors: (1)Committees: House – Transportation and InfrastructureLatest Action: House – 05/11/2020 Referred to the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. (All Actions)Tracker:
- H.R.6747— 116th Congress (2019-2020)To authorize funding for formula grants for rural areas, to amend title 49, United States Code, to increase the percentage of funds available for grants and contracts for transportation research, technical assistance, training, and related support services in rural areas, and for other purposes.Sponsor: Rep. Delgado, Antonio [D-NY-19] (Introduced 05/08/2020) Cosponsors: (0)Committees: House – Transportation and InfrastructureLatest Action: House – 05/11/2020 Referred to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. (All Actions)Tracker:
- H.R.6765— 116th Congress (2019-2020)To cancel and waive certain debts owed to the United States with respect to Hurricane Sandy, and for other purposes.Sponsor: Rep. Kim, Andy [D-NJ-3] (Introduced 05/08/2020) Cosponsors: (7)Committees: House – Transportation and Infrastructure; Financial Services; Small BusinessLatest Action: House – 05/11/2020 Referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management. (All Actions)Tracker:
- H.R.6770— 116th Congress (2019-2020)To amend title 23, United States Code, to encourage and promote the safe and efficient management, operation, and development of surface transportation systems, and for other purposes.Sponsor: Rep. Lipinski, Daniel [D-IL-3] (Introduced 05/08/2020) Cosponsors: (2)Committees: House – Transportation and InfrastructureLatest Action: House – 05/11/2020 Referred to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. (All Actions)Tracker:
- H.R.6771— 116th Congress (2019-2020)To require the Secretary of the Army, acting through the Chief of Engineers, to convey certain property to the Tri-County Levee District.Sponsor: Rep. Luetkemeyer, Blaine [R-MO-3] (Introduced 05/08/2020) Cosponsors: (0)Committees: House – Transportation and InfrastructureLatest Action: House – 05/11/2020 Referred to the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. (All Actions)Tracker:
- H.R.6772— 116th Congress (2019-2020)To waive the cost share requirement for Indian Tribes receiving disaster assistance relating to COVID-19, and for other purposes.Sponsor: Rep. Lujan, Ben Ray [D-NM-3] (Introduced 05/08/2020) Cosponsors: (5)Committees: House – Transportation and InfrastructureLatest Action: House – 05/11/2020 Referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management. (All Actions)Tracker:
- H.R.6780— 116th Congress (2019-2020)To direct the Secretary of Transportation to establish a toll credit exchange pilot program, and for other purposes.Sponsor: Rep. Pappas, Chris [D-NH-1] (Introduced 05/08/2020) Cosponsors: (2)Committees: House – Transportation and InfrastructureLatest Action: House – 05/11/2020 Referred to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. (All Actions)Tracker:
- H.R.6785— 116th Congress (2019-2020)To amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and emergency Assistance Act to ensure appointment of a Tribal Response coordinator whenever a multi-State major disaster or emergency is declared.Sponsor: Rep. Ruiz, Raul [D-CA-36] (Introduced 05/08/2020) Cosponsors: (0)Committees: House – Transportation and InfrastructureLatest Action: House – 05/11/2020 Referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.249— 116th Congress (2019-2020)A bill to direct the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization, and for other purposes.Sponsor: Sen. Inhofe, James M. [R-OK] (Introduced 01/29/2019) Cosponsors: (22)Committees: Senate – Foreign RelationsLatest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.3590— 116th Congress (2019-2020)Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020Sponsor: Sen. Barrasso, John [R-WY] (Introduced 05/04/2020) Cosponsors: (3)Committees: Senate – Environment and Public WorksLatest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 452. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.3591— 116th Congress (2019-2020)America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020Sponsor: Sen. Barrasso, John [R-WY] (Introduced 05/04/2020) Cosponsors: (3)Committees: Senate – Environment and Public WorksLatest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 453. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.3672— 116th Congress (2019-2020)A bill to provide States and Indian Tribes with flexibility in administering the temporary assistance for needy families program due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), to make emergency grants to States and Indian Tribes to provide financial support for low-income individuals affected by that public health emergency, and for other purposes.Sponsor: Sen. Wyden, Ron [D-OR] (Introduced 05/11/2020) Cosponsors: (3)Committees: Senate – FinanceLatest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.3673— 116th Congress (2019-2020)A bill to investigate the role of the Chinese Communist Party in the novel coronavirus global pandemic and to secure damages on behalf of victims in the United States and abroad.Sponsor: Sen. Hawley, Josh [R-MO] (Introduced 05/11/2020) Cosponsors: (0)Committees: Senate – Foreign RelationsLatest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.3674— 116th Congress (2019-2020)A bill to amend title 28, United States Code, to strip foreign sovereign immunity of certain foreign states to secure justice for victims of novel coronavirus in the United States.Sponsor: Sen. Hawley, Josh [R-MO] (Introduced 05/11/2020) Cosponsors: (0)Committees: Senate – JudiciaryLatest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.3675— 116th Congress (2019-2020)A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to expand the treatment of moving expenses to employees and new appointees in the intelligence community who move pursuant to a change in assignment that requires relocation.Sponsor: Sen. Burr, Richard [R-NC] (Introduced 05/11/2020) Cosponsors: (1)Committees: Senate – FinanceLatest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.3676— 116th Congress (2019-2020)A bill to extend certain temporary credit union provisions enacted under the CARES Act, to include an exception for disaster area member business loans made by insured credit unions, and for other purposes.Sponsor: Sen. Wyden, Ron [D-OR] (Introduced 05/11/2020) Cosponsors: (0)Committees: Senate – Banking, Housing, and Urban AffairsLatest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.3677— 116th Congress (2019-2020)A bill to require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to promulgate an emergency temporary standard to protect employees from occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2, and for other purposes.Sponsor: Sen. Baldwin, Tammy [D-WI] (Introduced 05/11/2020) Cosponsors: (32)Committees: Senate – Health, Education, Labor, and PensionsLatest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.3678— 116th Congress (2019-2020)A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for payment of work-study allowances during a public health emergency relating to COVID-19 and for allowances to veterans enrolled in educational institutions closed for emergency situations, and for other purposes.Sponsor: Sen. Moran, Jerry [R-KS] (Introduced 05/11/2020) Cosponsors: (13)Committees: Senate – Veterans’ AffairsLatest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.3679— 116th Congress (2019-2020)A bill to require the Internal Revenue Service to establish a procedure by which parents may immediately claim the recovery rebate amount for children born in 2020.Sponsor: Sen. Duckworth, Tammy [D-IL] (Introduced 05/11/2020) Cosponsors: (7)Committees: Senate – FinanceLatest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.3680— 116th Congress (2019-2020)A bill to require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to continue to carry out certain programs relating to environmental justice, and for other purposes.Sponsor: Sen. Duckworth, Tammy [D-IL] (Introduced 05/11/2020) Cosponsors: (2)Committees: Senate – Environment and Public WorksLatest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.3681— 116th Congress (2019-2020)A bill to require a joint task force on the operation of air travel during and after COVID-19 pandemic, and for other purposes.Sponsor: Sen. Markey, Edward J. [D-MA] (Introduced 05/11/2020) Cosponsors: (1)Committees: Senate – Commerce, Science, and TransportationLatest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.3682— 116th Congress (2019-2020)A bill to provide States, Tribal governments, and local governments with spending discretion for part of their Coronavirus Relief Fund payment.Sponsor: Sen. Rounds, Mike [R-SD] (Introduced 05/11/2020) Cosponsors: (0)Committees: Senate – AppropriationsLatest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Appropriations. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.3683— 116th Congress (2019-2020)A bill to authorize the imposition of sanctions with respect to the People’s Republic of China for its obstruction or failure to cooperate in investigations relating to the outbreak of COVID-19, and for other purposes.Sponsor: Sen. Graham, Lindsey [R-SC] (Introduced 05/11/2020) Cosponsors: (8)Committees: Senate – FinanceLatest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.3684— 116th Congress (2019-2020)A bill to make supplemental appropriations for the Departments of Agriculture, the Interior, Homeland Security, Labor, and Commerce for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020, and for other purposes.Sponsor: Sen. Wyden, Ron [D-OR] (Introduced 05/11/2020) Cosponsors: (0)Committees: Senate – AppropriationsLatest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Appropriations. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.J.Res.72— 116th Congress (2019-2020)A joint resolution providing for the reappointment of Michael M. Lynton as a citizen regent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution.Sponsor: Sen. Boozman, John [R-AR] (Introduced 05/11/2020) Cosponsors: (2)Committees: Senate – Rules and AdministrationLatest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.J.Res.73— 116th Congress (2019-2020)A joint resolution providing for the appointment of Franklin D. Raines as a citizen regent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution.Sponsor: Sen. Boozman, John [R-AR] (Introduced 05/11/2020) Cosponsors: (2)Committees: Senate – Rules and AdministrationLatest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.Res.568— 116th Congress (2019-2020)A resolution recognizing the roles and contributions of the teachers of the United States in building and enhancing the civic, cultural, and economic well-being of the United States.Sponsor: Sen. Collins, Susan M. [R-ME] (Introduced 05/11/2020) Cosponsors: (36)Latest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Submitted in the Senate, considered, and agreed to without amendment and with a preamble by Unanimous Consent. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.Res.569— 116th Congress (2019-2020)A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that, during Public Service Recognition Week, public servants should be commended for their dedication and continued service to the United States.Sponsor: Sen. Sinema, Kyrsten [D-AZ] (Introduced 05/11/2020) Cosponsors: (9)Latest Action: Senate – 05/11/2020 Submitted in the Senate, considered, and agreed to without amendment and with a preamble by Unanimous Consent. (All Actions)Tracker:
- S.Amdt.1582 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)Purpose: In the nature of a substitute.Amends Bill: S.249Sponsor: Sen. Inhofe, James M. [R-OK] (Submitted 05/11/2020) (Proposed 05/11/2020)Latest Action: 05/11/20 Amendment SA 1582 agreed to in Senate by Unanimous Consent. (All Actions)