We have received countless calls and emails asking for information on financial and other relief programs. We have been unable to pass on actionable items for relief efforts simply because until Congress passes their “phase III” relief legislation we do not have any actionable items.
Courtesy of TMHA legislative partners, Steve and Craig Holzheauser, and Cornerstone Government Affairs, here is yesterday’s report on relief legislation working its way through Congress.
3.23.2020 - COVID-19 Legislative Update
Supplemental III – “COVID-III”
Timeline: This afternoon, the Senate reconsidered the failed cloture vote on proceeding to the bill that is intended to serve as the legislative vehicle for the third coronavirus supplemental – the vote failed 49-46 (60 votes are required for cloture). Leader McConnell moved forward with this procedural vote despite having not yet reached a bipartisan agreement on the package. Negotiations are ongoing between the two Senate Leaders and Sec. Mnuchin, and the hope remains that once a deal is reached, the bill can be considered expeditiously under a time agreement. Leader Schumer has indicated that should a bipartisan agreement emerge, he would want to move the bill quickly.
This evening Leader McConnell filed cloture, once again, on the motion to proceed to H.R. 748, the legislative vehicle for the supplemental. Absent an agreement being reached allowing for votes in relation to the COVID package sooner, this move sets up a cloture vote on proceeding to the vehicle one hour after the Senate convenes on Wednesday. However, procedural hoops aside, the goal remains to continue negotiations to reach a bipartisan deal and move a package as soon as possible.
Process and Politics: Early in the day, there was a lot of optimism for coming to an agreement today – Democrats and Republicans had been making progress across multiple fronts. However, late in the day it seemed clear that a deal was unlikely to come together today. Later today, House Democrats released a draft bill, which outlined their priorities and served as a marker for negotiations.
Policy: As with previous big deals, nothing is final until everything is final. All policies previously discussed continue to be on the table and could be part of a final deal. That being said, the latest information indicates that a deal will include ~$100 billion fund for health providers, increases on providers to DRG payments COVID-related services, addressing drug and device shortages, faster vaccine coverage on insurance plans, Medicare sequester suspended for two years, and an extension of unemployment insurance for an additional four months.
- Ongoing negotiations are centered around additional funding for hospitals, a language request related to Planned Parenthood, a state stabilization fund, and corporate governance provisions. Small business and the provisions under the jurisdiction of Senate Finance Committee are largely set – the pressure of getting a bill passed quickly has made staff hesitant to open further negotiations on anything that may not find a consensus quickly. Members and staff recognize that there will likely be later opportunities (as there is an agreement to draft a fourth and fifth supplemental).
- Appropriators have agreed to a topline of ~$300 billion but are still working out what would be in a final bill.
- Negotiations have rendered the following materials out of date (as changes could have been made but unreported), but the CARES Act still is the base being negotiated from. CARES text (as released on Sunday morning) here. Summary of Title I (Small Business), II (Individual and Business provisions), IV (Economic Stabilization) here. Summary of Title III (Health) here. Summary of Division B (appropriations) here.
Drafts of the proposed House bill have been circulating, one from last night and one from earlier today. While the House will likely not vote on the bill and not all the provisions in the draft will make it into COVID-III, the provisions that do not make it into this supplemental will likely be the pieces Democrats will push for in negotiations of later bills. See here for the most recent draft that was circulated. Section by section here. One-pager here. FAQ on proposed unemployment compensation here. FAQ on economic assistance payments here. Highlights include:
- $150 billion for hospitals, CHCs, government medical systems, including $80 billion in low-interest loans to hospitals;
- $1,500 to individuals in direct cash payment, up to $7,500 for family of five;
- Expansion of Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit;
- Refundable employer payroll tax credit (tied to the payment of employee wages COVID-19 crisis);
- Expands paid sick days and family medical leave (extends to 12/31/2021, paid sick leave required regardless of size of the company);
- Health extenders extended to end of the fiscal year;
- $500+ billion grants and interest-free loans (some forgivable) for small businesses, additional $184 billion for low-interest disaster loans;
- $200 billion state stabilization fund, $15 billion in Community Development Block Grant for local governments;
- $60 billion for schools/universities ($50 billion for states’ school funding and $10 billion for higher education);
- $10 billion in grants to airports, $40 billion in grants to airlines and ground support contractors ($21 billion in loans), $100 million in grants to maintain service to small communities.
- Housing support, including $100 billion for emergency rental assistance to low-income renters at risk of homelessness, $32 billion for state housing agencies, and $1.1 billion for HUD multi-family housing programs;
- $25 billion for public transportation to ensure continued operations;
- Over $250 million for investments in telemedicine (ReConnect, Distance Learning and Telemedicine), $2 billion for broadband hotspots/devices to for distance learning, and $1 billion for the expansion of broadband access to low-income Americans.
Supplemental IV and onward
Leadership has agreed on drafting a fourth and fifth supplemental – unclear what will be included yet.
Supplemental II – Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201)
The Senate passed the bill 90-8 Wednesday afternoon and the President signed the bill into law that evening. Bill text here. Factsheet here. Bill section by section here. A summary of paid leave provisions, incorporating changes made by technical correction, is here.
Supplemental I – Coronavirus Supplemental
House is currently in recess but will be called back when votes are needed on the next supplemental (with 24-hour notice). House Democratic leaders have said that members will not have to return until after a deal the supplemental is reached.
Senate is in session. Leader McConnell has said the Senate will stay in session until a third supplemental has passed.
As of right now, the appropriations markup schedule is unchanged. Most House bills have subcommittee markup dates the weeks of April 21 and April 28, while the Senate has not yet set its markup dates.
Remote voting: Speaker Pelosi and Leader McConnell have both voiced opposition to members’ voting remotely, but as more members of Congress have begun self-quarantining and the pandemic makes travel more treacherous, in-person voting may become more difficult. Speaker Pelosi circulated a Dear Colleague last week stating that the House will “adjust our voting procedures in order to follow the CDC’s recommendations.” Similarly, in its notice of the vote Sunday, the Senate Cloakroom encouraged members to socially distance during votes. Remote voting is being discussed to some extent in both chambers.
Virtual hearings: While most hearings and markups for the next week or so have been cancelled, some committee staff are working to see whether holding hearings virtually is possible.
Members of Congress in Quarantine or Treatment (new additions in bold)
Tested Positive (3): Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Currently Self-Quarantined (26): Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK), Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), Rep. David Price (D-NC), Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)
Completed Quarantine (4): Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA)