LGN Federal Update: Senate Leadership Unveils New Coronavirus Relief Plan

U.S. Senate leadership late on Monday unveiled a draft plan to provide $1 trillion in coronavirus relief funding ahead of negotiations with House leaders. As a package of separate bills, the plan gives Congress the option of passing parts of the agenda now, such as extensions of unemployment insurance or public health funding, and leaving the rest for later.

The majority caucus in the Senate had been divided on the overall cost of the plan and how to extend the supplemental unemployment benefits expiring this week. Congressional Democrats, backing their own $3.5 trillion HEROES Act passed in the House in May, have signaled that negotiations would begin once the GOP had united around their own plan. 

Notably, the Senate plan does not include any additional funding for state and local governments, a top priority for House leadership and Senate Democrats. The House-passed HEROES Act included $500 […]

2020-07-28T15:55:32-05:00Jul 28, 2020|

LGN Federal Update: July 20, 2020

Senate Leadership Reveals Outline of Next Relief Package Proposal

Senate leadership plans to unveil their opening bid for the next round of economic aid this week, which is expected to include providing continued unemployment insurance subsidies, tax incentives for employers to avoid layoffs and encourage rehiring, and a new round of checks and direct payments sent by the IRS.

The proposal will resemble much of the CARES Act, but it is not expected to include a new round of direct aid to state and local governments, or the full $600 per week unemployment subsidy provided by that legislation. House leaders have made aid to local governments and unemployment subsidies major priorities for the next phase of aid.

A payroll tax cut is also expected in the legislation despite initial resistance from both Democrats and Republicans. There has been little support in Congress for the idea, […]

2020-07-20T18:18:23-05:00Jul 20, 2020|

LGN FEDERAL UPDATE: JUNE 1, 2020

Minnesota Congressional Delegation Reacts to Statewide Protests

With the Twin Cities receiving national attention for the last week in the wake of George Floyd’s death, members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation have responded to the unfolding turmoil with a range of statements, letters, and legislative actions.

Minnesota’s Senators, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, received support from 26 of their Senate colleagues in sending a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr calling for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into the patterns of racially discriminatory and violent policing in the Minneapolis Police Department.

Minneapolis’s Representative, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, introduced a resolution in the House with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07) to condemn police brutality, racial profiling and the excessive use of force. Representatives HagedornCraig, and Phillips all took to social media to encourage their constituents to be […]

2020-06-01T16:01:21-05:00Jun 1, 2020|

LGN FEDERAL UPDATE: MAY 18

House Passes $3 Trillion Stimulus Bill

The House passed a $3 trillion Democratic economic stimulus bill on Friday that Senate leadership and President Trump have already rejected, making it less likely to trigger bipartisan negotiations in the immediate future. The measure, passed 208-199, would give cash-strapped states and local governments more than $1 trillion while providing most Americans with a new round of $1,200 checks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it should be the basis of talks with the GOP-controlled Senate and White House, which have called for a “pause” to allow earlier coronavirus recovery spending to work.

President Trump and Republican congressional leaders have acknowledged that some sort of further economic stimulus will likely be necessary as the economy continues to shed jobs. The number of people filing for unemployment benefits since March now exceeds 36 million. “Phase four is going to happen but it’s […]

2020-06-01T16:05:43-05:00May 18, 2020|

LGN FEDERAL UPDATE: MAY 11

Congress in Early Stages of Developing Fourth Relief Package

The Senate is back today with plans to continue considering President Trump’s nominations and legislation to reinstate some expired surveillance programs, but little formal talk of a fourth coronavirus relief package. After backing almost $3 trillion to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans have begun raising alarms about the deficit and characterizing a new relief package as an “if, not when” proposition.

The House could return with a vote on another coronavirus response bill, but no schedule or legislation has been released so far. Moderates and progressives in the House majority were still debating the contents of a possible bill late last week, with leadership considering proposals including extending unemployment benefits and providing more cash payments to individuals.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week there will also […]

2020-06-01T16:07:35-05:00May 12, 2020|

LGN FEDERAL CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: APRIL 27

Democrats Eye Further Direct Payments in Next Stimulus Round

Congressional Democrats are considering proposing a new round of direct cash payments to U.S. households and extending a similar benefit to the smallest businesses, as they struggle to get federal loans. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Richard Neal (D-MA-01), the top Democrats on Congress’s two tax committees, want to include the payments in the next round of stimulus spending that Congress is likely to take up in May.

Their effort is likely to face objections from key Republicans, such as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who say they want to put the brakes on more deficit spending. But some GOP lawmakers have complained that small local businesses are getting shut out from small business aid. Long waits at state unemployment offices and high demand for the Paycheck Protection Program have left many people and small business owners unable to claim swift relief.

Senator Wyden’s […]

2020-05-06T15:13:13-05:00Apr 30, 2020|

LGN FEDERAL CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: APRIL 22

Summary of “Phase 3.5” Legislation

The Senate on Tuesday evening passed $484 billion in new pandemic relief funds to bolster a tapped-out small business aid program, pay for additional coronavirus testing, and help hospitals deluged by sick patients.

The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Actis expected to receive an affirmative vote in the House tomorrow, followed by a prompt signature by President Trump. A summary of the bill can be found below:

Paycheck Protection Program

The third coronavirus response package, the CARES Act, provided $349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which offers low-interest loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Loans can be forgiven for borrowers that pay eligible payroll expenses or rehire workers over eight weeks.

The newest legislation increases the amount available to businesses by $310 billion, bringing the combined total from Phases 3 and 3.5 to $659 billion.

Disaster Loans

The CARES Act provided $10 billion to expand the SBA’s […]

2020-05-06T15:15:27-05:00Apr 22, 2020|

LGN FEDERAL CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: APRIL 20

Democrats and White House Near Deal on New Relief Funding

Democrats and the Trump Administration are near an agreement for Congress to act this week on a deal as large as $500 billion to put more funding into a tapped-out small business aid program and provide money for coronavirus testing and overwhelmed hospitals. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday the two sides were close to a deal, though various details remained to be worked out and the entire package still has to be translated into legislative text.

While the Senate has a pro forma session scheduled for Monday, leaders of both parties first would have to ensure no senator would object to the agreement in order to pass it by unanimous consent. That typically requires circulating legislative text. The Senate’s next scheduled session is currently set for Thursday; Senate Republicans are still reviewing the deal outline.

House Majority […]

2020-05-06T15:18:26-05:00Apr 20, 2020|

LGN FEDERAL CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: APRIL 13

Insurers Instructed to Waive Copays for Virus Testing, Services

The Trump Administration on Saturday moved to require group health plans and other insurers to cover both coronavirus testing and some related treatment services with no copays or other cost sharing to beneficiaries, including tests that determine if a person has previously had Covid-19. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, along with the Departments of Labor and the Treasury, issued guidance over the weekend that clarified that Americans with private health insurance should have access to testing and certain other related services, including antibody testing, at no cost.

“It is critical that Americans have peace of mind knowing that cost won’t be a barrier to testing during this national public health emergency,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. A number of private insurers have vowed to make testing free for those with insurance. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act required group health plans […]

2020-05-06T15:20:55-05:00Apr 13, 2020|

LGN FEDERAL CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: APRIL 9

Senate in Stalemate Seeking Quick Additional Relief Funds

Senate Democrats blocked Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s attempt to quickly pass a $250 billion boost in aid to small businesses suffering revenue losses in the pandemic, likely delaying any action until leaders of both parties find a compromise. Leader McConnell had sought unanimous consent in the Senate this morning for the small business aid requested by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Monday may be the next chance to quickly approve more aid without objection, and lawmakers are not scheduled to return to Washington until the week of April 20.

Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are seeking to double the GOP’s $250 billion aid request for the slumping economy, including adding federal aid for state and local governments and added funding for hospitals struggling to treat a crush of coronavirus patients. As part of his plea for urgency, McConnell cited Thursday’s report […]

2020-05-06T15:25:25-05:00Apr 9, 2020|

LGN FEDERAL CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: APRIL 6

Delegation Members Urge Disaster Declaration for Minnesota

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN), and Representatives Angie Craig (D-MN-02), Dean Phillips (D-MN-03), Betty McCollum (D-MN-04), Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05), Tom Emmer (R-MN-06), and Pete Stauber (R-MN-08) urged the Trump Administration to approve Minnesota’s request for a major disaster declaration due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The letter, sent to the White House yesterday, can be read in full here.

“All of Minnesota’s 87 counties and 11 tribes have been affected by the spread of the pandemic,” the lawmakers wrote. “As of April 5, the State had 935 positive cases and 29 deaths, with those affected ranging in age from 4 months to 104 years old. Minnesota’s health care facilities are confronting a lack of needed supplies and limited capacity, which will be exacerbated by a limited number of qualified medical staff that is expected to decrease further as the pandemic […]

2020-05-06T15:28:03-05:00Apr 6, 2020|

LGN FEDERAL CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: APRIL 2

MN Delegation Requests Revision to Medicaid Proposal
The 10 members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation wrote a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) calling on the Administration to revise the proposed Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation (MFAR). The letter states that many of the proposed changes could negatively impact Minnesota and the care provided to residents who rely on Medicaid as health care systems in the state confront the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter can be found here.

Democrats Outline Proposal for Next Coronavirus Package
Democrats in Congress, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have said the next coronavirus stimulus bill should include at least $760 billion over five years for water projects, broadband, and transportation, plus $10 billion for community health centers and more for housing and education, as a way to strengthen U.S. infrastructure and the economy. “We need to invest in our infrastructure to address some of the critical […]

2020-05-06T15:29:11-05:00Apr 2, 2020|

LGN FEDERAL CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: MARCH 30

Pelosi Seeks New Health Worker Protections in Fourth Bill

House Democratic leaders said the next coronavirus-relief measure will carry provisions to bolster the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) ability to protect health care workers, after the chamber cleared the largest stimulus plan in the nation’s history. “Workers are risking their lives on the front line of this fight and need stronger OSHA protections to keep them safe,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the House floor last Friday.

The $2 trillion stimulus package passed by voice vote on Friday, which President Trump signed into law later that day, splits $15 million among OSHA and other agencies under the Department of Labor through fiscal year 2022. Congressional Democrats argue that more measures are needed to improve worker safety during the outbreak.

Though OSHA has requirements for medical personnel to follow to prevent the spread of blood-borne illnesses, it does not have similar standards for […]

2020-05-06T15:33:31-05:00Mar 30, 2020|

LGN FEDERAL CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: MARCH 27

Discussion of Fourth Package Begins as House Passes Stimulus
With the House of Representatives passing the Senate-approved $2 trillion Phase III coronavirus measure this afternoon, congressional leaders are already considering a fourth coronavirus relief measure that may include more money for frontline health-care workers.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that the next coronavirus bill would “lean toward recovery” and look at covering health-care services beyond testing for people who have contracted the illness.

“It’s not just the tests, it’s the doctor’s visits,” Pelosi said. Within her caucus there is a demand for expanding federal enforcement of safety rules for health-care providers and building on the Affordable Care Act to lower what Americans pay for health care.

For Republicans, a fourth stimulus bill could mean aid for rural health-care providers. Some hospital and health-care provider groups are already signaling they are going to need more than the $100 billion included in the bill passed […]

2020-05-06T15:08:36-05:00Mar 27, 2020|

LGN FEDERAL CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 3/26

Late Wednesday night, the Senate passed a $2 trillion dollar coronavirus relief package titled the CARES Act. The bill provides additional funds to America’s health systems, a number of financial tools to private businesses, as well as direct financial assistance to most Americans. The House is expected to approve the bill tomorrow (March 27).

Below, find a summary of the two major portions of the bill: Division A, which largely deals with the health care system and economic stabilization efforts; and Division B, which provides $340 billion in emergency appropriations to government agencies.

DIVISION A

SMALL BUSINESS PROVISIONS

Increases the government guarantee of loans made for the Payment Protection Program to 100 percent through December 31, 2020.

Specifies allowable uses of the loan include payroll support, such as employee salaries, paid sick or medical leave, insurance premiums, and mortgage, rent, and utility payments.

Authorizes Small Business Administration to provide additional financial awards to resource partners (Small […]

2020-05-07T18:06:03-05:00Mar 26, 2020|

LGN FEDERAL CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: MARCH 25

Congress, White House Agree on $2 Trillion Stimulus Package

The Trump Administration struck a deal with Senate Democrats and Republicans on an historic rescue package that tees up more than $2 trillion in spending and tax breaks to bolster the U.S. economy and fund a nationwide effort to stem the coronavirus. “At last we have a deal,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said early this morning on the chamber’s floor. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it an “outstanding agreement.”

The legislation was still being drafted well into Wednesday morning, but Leader McConnell said the Senate would vote on it later today. Hospitals and other health-care providers will get $130 billion from the Phase III package to help respond to the coronavirus outbreak. The legislation will also give state and local governments access to a $150 billion fund that can be used to purchase needed medical supplies.

Health Providers to Get […]

2020-05-07T17:55:17-05:00Mar 25, 2020|

LGN FEDERAL CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Senate Approves Second Coronavirus Bill
Senators this afternoon voted 90-8 to approve the House’s second coronavirus bill, which provides for free virus testing, requires paid leave from companies with fewer than 500 employees, and bolsters unemployment and food assistance and gives states billions of dollars in aid. President Trump is expected to promptly sign the bill into law.

The Senate agreed with an “overwhelming bipartisan vote” to the House-passed bill (H.R. 6201). A summary of H.R. 6201, as passed by the House on Saturday, March 14, can be found here. A summary of paid leave provisions, incorporating changes made by technical correction, can be found here.

The centerpiece of the bill gives workers at companies with fewer than 500 employees up to 12 weeks of paid family and sick leave to deal with issues involving the coronavirus, including staying home to care for children home […]

2020-06-01T16:10:02-05:00Mar 18, 2020|

LGN FEDERAL CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Senate Looks to Approve Coronavirus Bill This Week
The Senate this week will consider an economic relief plan, backed by President Trump, to deal with the spreading coronavirus. The House-passed package includes free testing for everyone who needs it, and two weeks of paid sick leave to allow people with the virus to stay home from work and avoid infecting co-workers. It also includes enhanced jobless benefits, increased food aid for children, senior citizens and food banks, and higher funding for Medicaid benefits. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that while the Senate works on the House bill, her chamber’s leaders will begin working on an additional emergency response measure.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement shortly after Saturday’s House vote that the Senate “will need to carefully review” the House measure. “I believe the vast majority of senators in both parties will agree we should act […]

2020-06-01T16:11:15-05:00Mar 16, 2020|
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