On July 29-August 1, the House is considering HR 7617, which is a minibus appropriations bill that includes Defense; Commerce-Justice-Science; Energy and Water Development; Financial Services and General Government; Homeland Security; Labor, Health and Human Services and Education; and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development. The rest of the appropriations bills are expected to be brought to the House floor after the August recess. Below is a chart that summarizes funding levels in the House appropriations measures. Meanwhile, the Senate is delaying consideration due to political disagreements over which amendments are allowed during markups. The Senate subcommittees and full committee votes are not expected until after the August recess. Finally, two different versions of the National Defense Authorization Act have passed the House and the Senate. Next both chambers need to start conference committee negotiations, which are expected after the August recess. Also, the Senate last week confirmed the nomination of Russell Vought to be Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget on a partisan vote of 51-45.
In the minibus legislation to be passed by the House on July 29-August 1:
Commerce-Justice-Science – $71.473 billion
Defense – $694.6 billion
Energy & Water Development – $49.6 billion
Financial Services-General Government – $24.64 billion
Homeland Security – $50.72 billion
Labor-HHS-Education – $196.5 billion
Transportation-HUD – $75.9 billion
In the minibus legislation passed by the House on July 24 by 224-189:
Agriculture-FDA – $23.98 billion
Interior-Environment HR 7612 – $36.76 billion
Legislative Branch (HR 7611) – $4.198 billion
Military Construction-Veterans Affairs – $250.9 billion
State, Foreign Operations – $65.87 billion
National Defense Authorization Act that has passed each chamber:
NDAA (Senate) – $740.5 billion
NDAA (House) – $732 billion
Some key parts of the appropriations measure that passed the House on July 24:
The Ag-FDA bill provides $24 billion in discretionary spending for these agencies in FY21. This is an increase of $487 million over FY20 and more than $4.11 billion than the administration requested in their FY21 request. It includes an additional an increase of $40.8 million for FDA for a total of $3.21 billion. The legislation also invests over $1.025 billion for the expansion of broadband service to provide economic development opportunities and improved education and healthcare services and additional investments to assist rural areas access basic utilities. This includes $1.45 billion for rural water and waste program loans, and over $610 million in water and waste grants for clean and reliable drinking water systems and sanitary waste disposal systems. It also contains $5.75 billion in discretionary funding for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) as well as $25.13 billion in funding for child nutrition programs. It provides free or reduced school lunches and snacks for children who qualify for the program as well for the Summer Food Service Program to ensure low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session.
The MilCon-VA bill provides a total of $10.1 billion, not including overseas contingency operations funding, for military construction and $104.8 billion in discretionary appropriations for the VA. The Veterans Medical Care programs are provided with $90.0 billion which is an increase of $9.8 billion above the FY20 enacted levels. In addition, it contains:
As the final batch of appropriations bills move through the House, G2G will provide more details on the contents of each bill and likelihood for inclusion in the final legislation negotiated with the Senate and the White House.
A quick review of the legislative response to the Coronavirus includes:
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically delayed the annual appropriations process of hearings and markups. Currently both chambers are working through subcommittees on their marks but it is still uncertain when either chambers’ full committees will take up these bills. The House Appropriations Committee has indicated that they will not start moving their bills until the Senate acts on the next COVID-19 relief package, the 5th one since March.
Related to moving this legislation is the House’s unprecedented rule change established on May 22 that will allow members to designate a proxy to enable members with health concerns to still be able to vote without having to travel back to Washington. The new rule also allows committees to conduct remote and virtual hearings once they run several trial runs. This means the appropriations bills can be moved through subcommittee in the coming weeks.
Finally, many state budgets start July 1 and are cutting spending significantly due to COVID-19 causing severe revenue shortfalls and increased response spending. As a result, Congress is considering ways to include sending funding to state and local governments. The total state and local government budget shortfalls total $765 billion over a three-year period, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Therefore, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the SMART Act, which would provide $500 billion in state, local and tribal funding this fiscal year.
On May 15, the House passed by 208-199, a $3 trillion COVID-19 relief package called the HEROES Act, which will not be voted on in the Senate as Senate Majority Leader McConnell stated his chamber will draft a less expensive bill and bring it to the floor in late June. The HEROES Act includes the following provisions:
The HEROES Act restricts collections of debts of nonprofit organizations and smalls businesses until 120 days after the end of the coronavirus national emergency declaration. Even then, creditors couldn’t add additional interest or fees on the unpaid debt at the end of the emergency. It also requires the Main Street Lending program to include non-profit organizations as eligible borrowers and be required to offer a low-cost loan option that may be forgiven for non-profits serving low-income communities. It makes some changes for the self-employed tax credit by providing a 90% refundable credit for individuals whose gross self-employment income in 2020 was less than 90% of the amount they received in 2019. The credit would be based on the individual’s income loss, over 10%, from 2019 to 2020, capped at $45,000.
First, note we will cover details on the webinars tomorrow at 12pm and 3pm and are planning another webinar for March 27th.
Second, see these resources:
NPI Submissions get response within 10 days if can do diagnostics: https://mrdc-npi.amedd.army.mil
Trump declared a national emergency on March 13th which was accompanied by several initiatives, including waiving student-loan interest, purchasing large quantities of oil, setting up drive-through testing, and authorizing the Health and Human Services Department to waive certain hospital regulations. Congress and the administration have worked closely to craft and enact two packages thus far and are steeped in Phase III coronavirus response legislation that could total over $1 trillion for industries and individuals. The new proposal is expected to include the steps taken by the executive branch, including delay of tax deadlines, relief for student loan interest payments, a payroll tax cut, and billions for small business loans. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) suggested a proposal that would provide every American $1,000 and Democrats in the Senate are also putting together their own proposal.
On March 6th, the first coronavirus response measure, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, was signed into law to provide $8.3 billion for immediate response efforts to the Department of Health and Human Services, the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, and Small Business Administration. On March 14th, the House passed the second bill called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act for which they made technical corrections on March 16th and sent to the Senate. On March 18th, the Senate passed and President Trump signed legislation giving tax credits to employers to offset the costs of providing emergency paid leave, funding for food assistance such as SNAP and WIC and expanded unemployment insurance, and increased Medicaid funding to states. It also requires insurers, Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health programs to fully cover testing and related services for the virus. The funds provided are designated as emergency requirements and won’t count against the discretionary spending cap for FY2020. Details are below for the Phase II coronavirus response legislation.
Test Coverage: Insurers are required to cover coronavirus tests and related services, such as provider visits for testing, without cost-sharing or prior authorization requirements. The cost-sharing prohibition would also apply to Medicaid, Medicare, TRICARE, veterans’ health programs, the Indian Health Service, and coverage provided to federal civilian employees. The bill provides $1 billion to allow the National Disaster Medical System to reimburse provider costs associated with testing uninsured individuals.
Nutrition: $250 million for HHS programs that aid elderly Americans, divided as follows:
If a school is closed for at least five consecutive days because of a coronavirus-related public health emergency, states could adjust to provide additional aid to households with children eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. It also waives federal work requirements for SNAP eligibility. The waiver begins in the first full month after the bill is enacted and terminate at the end of the first full month after a federal coronavirus-related emergency declaration is lifted. State-imposed work requirements won’t be changed, but a person’s participation in SNAP during the emergency won’t be counted for determining compliance with work requirements.
It creates an emergency paid leave program to directly respond to the coronavirus with employers with fewer than 25 employees exempted. Private sector employers with fewer than 500 workers and government entities would have to provide as many as 12 weeks of job-protected leave under the Family Medical Leave Act for employees who are unable to work or telework because they have to care for a child younger than 18 whose school or day care has closed because of the coronavirus. The first 10 days of leave could be unpaid, though a worker could choose to use accrued vacation days, personal leave, or other available paid leave for unpaid time off. Following the 10-day period, workers can receive a benefit from their employers that will be at least two-thirds of their normal pay rate. Leave assistance to workers is capped at $200 per day or $10,000 total. The FMLA provisions run through Dec. 31, 2020.
Full-time employees receive 80 hours of sick leave and part-time workers are granted time off that’s equivalent to their scheduled or normal work hours in a two-week period. Paid sick time won’t carry over from year to year. Workers would have to be paid at least their normal wage or the federal, state, or local minimum wage, whichever is greater. Leave assistance would be capped at $5,110 for a worker’s quarantine or diagnosis and at $2,000 to provide care for another individual or child. An employer can’t require a worker to use any other available paid leave before using the sick time.
Employers are prohibited from:
Workers under a multiemployer collective bargaining agreement and whose employers pay into a pension plan would have access to paid emergency leave.
Employer Tax Credits:
The legislation provides refundable tax credits to employers to cover wages paid to employees while they are taking time off. These credits are against employers’ payroll tax payments.
Self-Employed Tax Credit:
It provides a similar refundable credit against self-employment tax. Self-employed individuals can receive a family leave credit for as many as 50 days for the lesser of $200 or 67% of their average daily self-employment income. Self-employed individuals have to submit documentation, as required by the Treasury Department. The measure establishes alternate requirements for self-employed individuals who also receive sick-leave pay from an employer.
Extended Benefits: Eligible laid-off workers can receive regular unemployment benefits for as long as 26 weeks in most states. After exhausting those benefits, individuals in states with rising unemployment can qualify for an additional 13 weeks of benefits — or 20 weeks in some states — through the Extended Benefits (EB) program. The law waives a state matching requirement and provide full federal funding for the EB program for the rest of 2020. To qualify, states need to experience a 10% spike in unemployment claims over the past year and qualify for a full emergency funding transfer.
It also provides:
• $82 million to the Defense Department for Covid-19-related items and services through the Defense Health Program.
• $60 million for the Veterans Affairs Department.
• $15 million to the Internal Revenue Service to carry out the bill’s provisions.
State health departments now have the power to put COVID-19 tests on the market without waiting for FDA approval under a shift in policy announced by the federal agency. The policy change gives states enormous responsibility for regulating new diagnostics that come online, a landmark move for the FDA. Agency leaders acknowledged this means the FDA is taking a risk by relying on state public health departments but they said the move was necessary to balance the needs of a pandemic with the risks the tests may be faulty. Labs don’t have to send the CDC samples of their coronavirus test results anymore to get confirmation of positive cases, thanks to this new FDA policy change.
A Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating an investigational vaccine (called mRNA-1273) designed to protect against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has begun at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) in Seattle, thanks to expeditious funding from NIAID. The open-label trial is enrolling 45 healthy adult volunteers ages 18 to 55 years over approximately 6 weeks. The first participant has already received the investigational vaccine.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy unveiled a new database hosting thousands of scientific articles about the coronavirus in hopes to help public health experts fight the outbreak. The new database, which already has 29,000 scholarly articles, is the latest effort by tech firms and the Office of Science and Technology Policy to come up with a response. Can access here: https://pages.semanticscholar.org/coronavirus-researchFY21 appropriations process was off to a fast start in 2020 with each office crafting their own request form and system for accepting requests. The House Appropriations Committee set tight timelines for moving bills so G2G worked methodically to collect, complete and submit ~350 forms while making sure we met with staff and Members of Congress. As we’ve shifted to working from home, we’ve continued our meetings in the form of calls and continued to email in these submissions. Most of the submission deadlines were last week and this week in the House and in early to mid-April in the Senate. Hearings are being delayed, but consideration and planning for bill markups continues. One challenge for this year is the limited funding due to caps enacted last year, however, this is likely to change due to the coronavirus and need for an economic stimulus response.For background, last August Congress passed and the president signed a new budget caps agreement that provided for a slight increase in FY20 and FY21. The new caps provided for $1.37 trillion in FY20 for defense and non-defense (or civilian) agencies. On December 20, the president signed the FY20 appropriations package that followed those caps. According to the agreement, the FY21 caps are nearly identical to last years, adding just $2 billion for defense and $3 billion for civilian agencies. The president’s FY21 budget proposal supports those caps only for defense, not civilian agencies. As the two chambers and White House, primarily under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, negotiate spending deals, G2G is maintaining regular communications and advocating for our requests throughout this process.