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March 18, 2020Client Alert

Senate Passes HR 6201; President Invokes Defense Production Act; Work Begins on Relief Plan 3

SENATE PASSES HR 6201, RELIEF PACKAGE 2

The Senate passed the House coronavirus relief bill 90-8 without changes Wednesday, freeing up Congress to focus more energy on passing subsequent legislation. The “no” votes included Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.).

The deal, negotiated between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, includes free coronavirus testing — even for the uninsured; two weeks of paid sick and family leave; increased federal funds for Medicaid and food security programs, like food stamps; and increased unemployment insurance benefits.

The bill is considered "phase two" of Congress' coronavirus legislative efforts, and negotiations over a "phase three" deal are already underway. it's still unclear how much it will cost, and the Congressional Budget Office has not yet scored it. The Senate will now turn to negotiations on Package 3.

CONGRESS AND THE ADMINISTRATION TURN TO PACKAGE 3

McConnell said the Senate will stay in session until "phase three" is passed. Senate Republicans are driving the process, and they are working with closely with Treasury and the White House to reach a deal as soon as possible.

The White House is pushing for an additional $1 trillion to be dedicated to combatting the economic effects of the virus. The Treasury fact sheet proposes sending checks to many Americans and devoting $300 billion to helping small businesses. The fact sheet also calls for the creation of a $50 billion “airline industry secured lending facility” that would allow it to make direct loans to “U.S. passenger and cargo air carriers.”

The House, which is currently in recess, does not plan to return to Capitol Hill until after the Senate passes a third bill.

 

Michael Best | Global COVID-10 Impact Heatmap

 

PRESIDENT INVOKES THE DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT

President Trump is invoking the Defense Production Act. Gives him emergency authority to call on private sector to supply essential equipment for national defense. The Defense Production Act (DPA) is the primary source of Presidential authorities to expedite and expand the supply of resources from the U.S. industrial base to support military, energy, space, and homeland security programs. Homeland security programs eligible for DPA support include:

  • Efforts to counter terrorism within the United States;
  • Emergency preparedness activities conducted pursuant to title VI of the Stafford Act;
  • Protection and restoration of critical infrastructure; and
  • Continuity of Government.

Click here for further info on what this Act does.

ADDITIONAL ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE ADMINISTRATION

Housing and Finance

The Department of Housing and Urban Development will be suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April. FHFA and VA issued similar announcements

The California Governor issued Executive Order N-28-20 on March 16 that addressed foreclosures and evictions related to the COVID-19 crisis (Link to executive Order N-28-20)

HHS and FDA

The President announced there will be a second news conference to discuss new FDA findings after reduction of red tape soon.

Department of Health and Human Services is working to allow doctors and healthcare practitioners to practice across state line.

Border Crossing Closure with Canada

President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau spoke earlier and they came to a mutual agreement with Congress to close norther border to all non-essential crossings, will not affect trade between the two countries. Here is the POTUS tweet. This closure is likely to last 30 days and will be reassessed then.

Situational Awareness of Virus

Dr. Brix said she expects the number of confirmed cases to “dramatically increase over the next 4-5 days” as a result of faster test processing.

POTUS Shoots Down Tariff Suspension Request from the Business Community

In a letter to President Trump, a business coalition of over 160 groups urged the president to "provide tariff relief of more than $350 billion as one of the measures to help those hurting financially from the economic effects resulting from the current public health crisis." Groups that signed the letter included the National Retail Federation, the Coalition of Services Industries, the Beer Institute, the National Association of Home Builders, the American Chemistry Council and the Internet Association, showing the broad sweep of American industries impacted by Trump's duties. The President rejected the plea in response to a question at today's press conference.

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