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 going to happen in a much better way for the American people,” the President told reporters on Friday.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said he anticipates another bill eventually. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last Thursday it will take time to evaluate the nearly $3 trillion in spending already enacted by Congress to combat the virus and its economic effects. Senate aides say that in June, the chamber may consider legislation to give businesses protection from virus-related lawsuits, and that bill could be combined with some limited economic aid.

Bipartisan Senators Unveil $500 Billion Plan to Aid State and Local Governments

A bipartisan group of senators plan to introduce legislation today that would establish a $500 billion fund to help state and local governments cope with the impact of the coronavirus. Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, and Senator Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, first announced plans for the bill in April. Since last month, more members of each party have signed on.

The money would be divided into three tranches, distributed according to population size, infection rates and revenue losses, and the bill does not have a population requirement, meaning municipalities of any size can use the money it makes available. All states, in addition to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia would receive a minimum of $2 billion. A companion bill has been introduced in the House by Representatives Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11) and Peter King (R-NY-02) along with a group of bipartisan co-sponsors.

House and Senate to Conduct Hearings on Virus Response

A number of influential House and Senate committees will hold hearings this week to evaluate the government’s response to the coronavirus so far, in addition to how to best prepare for the coming stages of the pandemic. These hearings include:

-The House Appropriations Military Construction-VA Subcommittee plans a hearing on Tuesday on the Veterans Affairs Department’s Covid-19 response efforts. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie is scheduled testify.

-The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Development Committee will on Tuesday hear the quarterly CARES Act report to Congress from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

-The House Education and Labor Committee on Wednesday will examine the federal government’s actions to protect workers from Covid-19.

-The Senate Special Committee on Aging will hold a hearing on Thursday on caring for seniors during the pandemic.

Minnesota Congressional Delegation Releases Video Urging People to Donate Plasma

All ten members of Minnesota’s Congressional Delegation came together to release a video urging Minnesotans who have tested positive for coronavirus and recovered to donate plasma as part of the federally sponsored Expanded Access Program for convalescent plasma, an investigational  treatment program for COVID-19. The convalescent plasma therapy program involves giving patients with an active coronavirus infection an infusion of antibody-rich plasma from people who have recovered from the virus.

People who have recovered from COVID-19, such Senator Amy Klobuchar’s husband, John Bessler, have antibodies to the disease in their blood, which may help fight the virus. In April, Bessler was the 7th person who had recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma as part of the Mayo Clinic’s program in Minnesota. Thousands of additional patients have participated nationwide as the Mayo Clinic and hospitals across the country are encouraging anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered to donate plasma.

Watch the video here.

Minnesota Delegation Notes

  • Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)and a number of her colleagues introduced legislation, the Work Opportunities and Resources to Keep Nonprofit Organizations Well (WORK NOW) Act, to help nonprofit organizations meet an increase in demand for their services due to the coronavirus pandemic while helping newly unemployed Americans get back to work. Read more here.
  • Senator Tina Smith (D-MN)and Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) announced that the U.S. Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration have heeded their bipartisan call to make rural electric cooperatives with fewer than 500 employees eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Read more here.
  • Congressman Jim Hagedorn (R-MN-01)provided an update on his ongoing cancer treatment, saying that his response to treatment is going “exceedingly well” and that he is “feeling great and working hard.” Read more here.
  • Congresswoman Angie Craig (D-MN-02)announced that the House-passed HEROES Act incorporates her All Dependent Children Count Act which would expand the definition of an eligible dependent under the CARES Act to those younger than 19, students below age 24 and adult dependents. Read more here.
  • Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN-03)secured from House leadership a commitment for a vote on the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, a bill he is leading with Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX-21) that would make revisions to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Read more here.
  • Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN-04)released a statement describing the need for additional funds to be allocated to Native American communities in upcoming relief legislation. Read more here.
  • Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05)and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) led more than 300 lawmakers from two dozen countries in a letter to the leadership of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, calling on them to cancel low-income countries’ debt and provide a major infusion of financial support in response to the pandemic. Read more here.
  • Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN-06) signed on as an original cosponsor of the Deal with the Debt Today Act, legislation that would require emergency or disaster spending to be offset over a ten year period. Read more here.
  • Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN-07)released a statement explaining his vote in favor of the HEROES Act, saying that despite “serious concerns with some of the provisions” the bill would provide “much-needed support” for agricultural producers and local governments. Read more here.
  • Congressman Pete Stauber (R-MN-08)hosted a public conference call to hear from Minnesotans concerned about the impact that Governor Walz’s Stay at Home Executive Order has on their outdoor recreation traditions, livelihoods, and Northern Minnesota’s economy. Read more here.