COVID-19 Federal Responses: Tuesday, May 12, 2020

COVID-19 Federal Responses: Tuesday, May 12, 2020

House Democrats released a new COVID-19 relief bill (and summary). The bill includes about $3 trillion in new relief measures.

  • About one-third of the funding would be allocated to state, local and territorial governments.
  • The bill would provide more direct payments to individuals and families. Specifically, up to $1,200 to individual tax filers, $6,000 for joint filers and $1,200 for each dependent child. 
  • It would extend the temporary $600 weekly unemployment insurance increase until January.
  • It would fund hazard pay to essential workers and new testing and contact tracing programs.
  • The bill would increase employee tax credits for employers from $5,000 per worker to $12,000 per worker, per quarter.
  • The bill provides $100 billion in funding for primary, secondary and postsecondary education.
  • It would provide funding to federal and state public health programs to improve data collection on racial and ethnic disparities.

The House could vote on the bill as early as Friday. However, it is not expected to receive any Republican support. What’s more, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and President Trump both oppose the bill, meaning it will not become law even if it passes the House. However, elements of this bill could be included in a compromised, bipartisan relief bill that could emerge over the coming weeks.

Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on how to reopen the country. The witnesses included Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Admiral Brett Giroir.

  • Dr. Fauci warned about the dangers of reopening too soon. He also expressed cautious optimism that at least one of the many COVID-19 vaccines being tested will be successful.
  • Admiral Giroir, who is overseeing the federal government’s testing efforts, said his goal is to have the capability to provide 40-50 million tests per month by September.
  • The written testimony for all four witnesses and a video recording of the hearing are available on the hearing website.

The HHS Provider Relief Fund added terms and conditions for providers who receive funding under the rural provider and high impact hospital allocations.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on liability protections as the country begins to reopen. Many of the committee members expressed support for national liability protections for employers and healthcare professionals.

During a Senate Banking Committee Hearing, the Federal Reserve’s Vice Chair for Supervision said the Federal Reserve expects to release more details about its Main Street Lending Program and its municipal lending program in the next few weeks.

Gilead Sciences announced it has reached licensing agreements with several generic drug manufacturers to aid in the production of its remdesivir treatment.

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee Subcommittee, asked Subcommittee Chair Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) to hold a hearing on racial and ethnic disparities for COVID-19. Rep. Burgess also asked for a hearing on pandemic-related mental health. 

NOTE: Information coming out of the Capital is beginning to slow. Starting the week of May 18, we will begin providing federal updates for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays – unless there is breaking news.