NATaT Weekly Legislative Report

NATaT Rural Grant Guide

Coronavirus update

June 29 2020

Summary of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Top News

On Friday, the White House held its first Coronavirus Task Force briefing since May. Despite rising numbers of coronavirus infections in many areas of the country, Vice President Mike Pence, head of the Task Force, sought to reassure the public about the federal government’s response and recovery efforts. “We have made truly remarkable progress in moving our nation forward,” he said. He also praised governors for reopening efforts and reiterated messaging from President Trump that the rise in cases is related to a rise in testing. "It is almost inarguable that more testing is generating more cases," he said. "The volume of new cases coming in is a reflection of a great success of expanding testing."

Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed optimism that a vaccine will be available by early 2021 but noted the US will not achieve “herd immunity” unless a large portion of the population takes the vaccine. Fauci also said federal health officials are considering pooled sampling to speed up testing. Pooled sampling allows groups of individuals to be tested at the same time. 

According to an ABC News-Ipsos poll, 89% of Americans report wearing face masks in public. Currently only 18 states require face masks in public. The poll found only 21% of respondents would be willing to attend a large gathering, down from 29% in mid-April. 

Capitol Hill. Today, the House will vote on HR 7301, which provides additional assistance to renters, homeowners, and people experiencing homelessness during the coronavirus pandemic. The bill authorizes $194 billion in housing aid, expands moratoriums on foreclosures and evictions, authorizes federal loans for rental property owners and mortgage servicers, and offers bankruptcy relief, among other provisions. (One-Page Bill Factsheet/ Section-by-Section Bill Summary)

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called for immediate bipartisan, bicameral negotiations on legislation to address the public health and economic crises caused by the coronavirus.

Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), Chairman of the House Oversight Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, sent a letter to Secretary of HHS Alex Azar urging him to reverse the decision to end federal support for 13 coronavirus testing across five states.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) led more than 20 Representatives in a letter calling on House leadership to provide increased federal investments in public transit agencies impacted by the coronavirus.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) wrote to HHS Secretary Alex Azar requesting state testing plans required under the Paycheck Protection Program and the Health Care Enhancement Act. The legislation requires non-federal COVID-19 funding recipients to submit testing plans to HHS. 

There are a few hearings this week, including: 

Oversight. The Government Accountability Office released its bimonthly oversight report. The report identifies several current and future challenges, including incomplete reporting from state and local health departments on testing, critical supply distribution, the integrity of PPP and federal economic impact payments, and the lack of a national aviation preparedness plan. A report summary is here.

The Congressional Research Service updated its report on Resources for Tracking Federal Spending.

Administration. HHS Secretary Alex Azar warned on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ the “window is closing” for the nation to take action and get the coronavirus under control. Azar called the current state of the outbreak a “very, very serious situation,” as reported by Axios.

The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) issued two Field Assistance Bulletins to clarify issues relevant to the pandemic’s effects on the workplace.

HHS announced an agreement to secure large supplies of the drug remdesivir from Gilead Sciences through September, allowing hospitals to purchase the drug in amounts allocated by HHS and state health departments.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin agreed to provide PPP data to relevant congressional committees. The information will include borrower names and amounts but will exclude nonpublic personally identifiable and commercially sensitive business information.

The FCC announced a process developed with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to ensure critical infrastructure communications projects can be completed quickly because so many Americans are relying on high-speed internet service. The new process will allow wireless licensees to request expedited review for essential and immediate projects that respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CDC held a Telebriefing Update on June 25. A transcript and audio recording of the briefing – including comments by CDC’s Dr. Robert Redfield and Dr. Jay Butler – is here.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos issued a rule that would help to ensure students whose learning was impacted by COVID-19 are served equitably by CARES Act funding. The rule, which became effective immediately, outlines how local education agencies must calculate the emergency funds available for providing equitable services to students and teachers in private schools. 

Webinars, Events and Resources

NACo WEBINAR: Nursing Homes and COVID-19: Mitigating the Spread of the Virus Through Federal Guidance and Technology

June 30, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm ET

Click here for more information and registration

ICMA WEBINAR: Supporting Small Businesses During & After COVID-19

June 30, 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm ET

Click here for more information and registration

DOL WEBINAR: Coronavirus-Related Paid Sick Leave Requirements for Business Owners, Employers, and Other Stakeholders

June 30, 9:00 am – 10:30 am CDT

Click here for more information and registration

NACo WEBINAR: Microsoft Teams – Beyond the Basics

July 1, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm ET

Click here for more information and registration

Weekly Legislative Update

Week of June 29 2020

Congressional Outlook


The House and Senate are in session this week. On Monday, the House will vote on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 1425), which expands the Affordable Care Act's insurance subsidies, encourages states to increase Medicaid, and directs the government to negotiate prices for expensive drugs; the Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act of 2020 (H.R. 7301), which provides additional assistance to renters, homeowners, and people experiencing homelessness during the Covid-19 pandemic, authorizing about $194 billion in housing aid, expanding moratoriums on foreclosures and evictions, authorizing federal loans for rental property owners and mortgage servicers, and offering bankruptcy relief, among other provisions; the Protecting Your Credit Score Act of 2019 (H.R. 5332), which makes improvements to the credit reporting system and installs new guidelines that the credit reporting agencies must follow; and a Congressional Review Act disapproval resolution (H.J. Res. 90) to overturn a final rule from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to reassess how banks comply with an anti-redlining law, the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act.

For the remainder of the week, the House will vote on the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2), a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package which includes the $500 billion five-year surface transportation reauthorization, the INVEST in America Act, and numerous provisions related to education, housing, water, broadband, health, energy, the Postal Service, and financing. On Monday, the House Rules Committee will consider which of the more than 375 amendments filed for consideration to H.R. 2 will be voted on by the full House when debate begins on the bill Tuesday.  

The Senate will continue its consideration of the $740.5 billion FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (S. 4049). The measure has already attracted more than 500 amendments, many of which won't be debated. However, the managers of the bill, Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Jack Reed (D-RI), are likely to agree on scores of amendments they would roll into packages the majority of senators could support. The debate over renaming military bases honoring Confederate generals, efforts to restrict a Pentagon program that transfers excess equipment to police departments, and provisions addressing racial inequities within the military services will likely grab headlines during the Senate floor debate. The House Armed Services Committee is also gearing up for its marathon markup of its own version of the FY21 NDAA (H.R. 6395) on Wednesday.

Voters in Colorado, Oklahoma, and Utah head to the polls on Tuesday to participate in congressional primary elections.


Week in Review


House Approves Police Reform Bill, But Issue Stalled Amid Partisan Standoff

Dems sink GOP police bill, leaving Senate deadlocked as country reckons with racism

House approves statehood for DC in 232-180 vote

House fails to override Trump veto of bill blocking DeVos student loan rule

New guidance from Treasury on uses of CARES Act relief funds

Cities are Making Unavoidable Cuts in Response to COVID-19 Fiscal Pressures

Trump administration asks Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare

GAO report finds widespread delays in US government response to Coronavirus

Pelosi, McConnell eyeing former Joint Chiefs chairman to chair Congressional Oversight Commission

US health officials estimate 20M Americans have had virus

Trump opens door to another round of stimulus checks, direct deposits

Chairman Thompson, 47 Democratic Cosponsors Introduce GREEN Act

Senate confirms 200th judge under Trump

Trump Suspends Visas Allowing Hundreds of Thousands of Foreigners to Work in the U.S.

Trump can't divert military funds for border wall, federal appeals court says


NATaT Weekly Legislative Report