Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations Update

The House passed the final 2,741-page fiscal year 2022 omnibus appropriations bill late last night sending the measure to the Senate before House Democrats left town for a Democratic retreat. The House first voted 361-69 to back funding for the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security and other national security items, and then 260-171, with Rep. Tlaib (D-MI) voting “present,” to advance the provisions largely related to domestic programs.

 

The FY22 omnibus appropriates $1.5 trillion in discretionary funding ($782.5 billion for defense and $730 billion for non-defense) and $13.6 billion in emergency spending to address the crisis in Ukraine. The omnibus also included several reauthorizations – Violence Against Women Act, National Flood Insurance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the annual intelligence authorization, a provision to promote the U.S.-Israel relationship and back regional peace initiatives such as the Abraham accords, a livestock reporting program, and more.

 

Last week, the White House requested an additional $22.5 billion for Covid-19 vaccines, testing, and therapeutics. Senate Republicans responded that the funding level was too high, and that it should be offset by cuts elsewhere. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) agreed to reduce the funding level to $15.6 billion and offset part of it by rescinding some state aid provided in an earlier relief bill. However, a number of Democrats objected to the offset saying that it unfairly penalized some states. To get the omnibus across the finish line in the House, the Speaker stripped the covid funding out of the omnibus. A stand-alone covid relief bill will be considered next week when the House reconvenes, but it faces a dim outlook in the Senate. The White House has warned testing capacity will start declining this month without this additional funding.

 

The omnibus now goes to the Senate for consideration. In case they don’t complete action on it by March 11 when the current continuing resolution (CR) expires, the House also passed a short-term CR funding the federal government through March 15.

 

Below are links to the 12 appropriations bills included in the FY22 omnibus as well as the Ukraine supplemental:

Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies: Report LanguageSummary | One-Pager

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: Report LanguageSummary | One-Pager

Defense: Report Language Part 1Report Language Part 2Summary | One-Pager

Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies: Report LanguageSummary | One-Pager

Financial Services and General Government: Report LanguageSummary | One-Pager

Homeland Security: Report LanguageSummary | One-Pager

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: Report LanguageSummary | One-Pager

Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies: Report Language Part 1Report Language Part 2Summary | One-Pager

Legislative Branch: Report LanguageSummary | One-Pager

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: Report LanguageSummary | One-Pager

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: Report LanguageSummary | One-Pager

Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies: Report LanguageSummary | One Pager

Ukraine Supplemental: Summary  | One-Pager

 

December 9, 2021 Legislative Update

Debt Ceiling

In November, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Congress that the U.S. would reach its debt limit on December 15. But Republicans in the Senate are refusing to vote for lifting the debt ceiling at a time when Democrats are passing big spending bills. With the Senate evenly split 50-50, a deal is needed to allow the Senate to pass a bill temporarily raising the debt ceiling with only Democratic votes.

 

This week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) struck a deal that would allow the Senate to bypass the filibuster and vote on lifting the debt ceiling. First the Senate needed to pass S. 610, a bill that would allow the Senate to pass a debt limit increase with a simple majority vote. That bill passed by a vote of 59 to 35. S. 610 passed the House earlier this week by a vote of 222 to 212. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) joined all Democrats in voting for the measure.

 

Next, they will take up a measure to raise the debt ceiling. The new debt ceiling is expected to exceed $30T (currently set at $28.9T) to ensure Congress won’t need to act again until after the midterm elections in November 2022.

National Defense Authorization Act

The Senate tried to consider their FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last week but the process stalled when Sen. Rubio (R-FL) blocked an amendment deal after he failed to get his amendment to ban imports from China’s Xinjiang region in the package that would get votes before a final vote in the Senate. The amendment wasn’t included in the package because it violated a clause in the Constitution that stipulates that bills that raise revenue have to originate in the House.

 

The House passed their FY22 NDAA on September 23. Rather than wait for the Senate to pass their bill and then conference it with the House bill; House, Senate, and Armed Services Committee leaders decided to move forward with a conferenced version of the bill. The House passed S. 1605 on Tuesday by a vote of 363 to 70. The $768B defense policy bill now heads to the Senate where it’s expected to advance fairly easily next week before heading to the President for his signature.

 

Bill Text

https://rules.house.gov/sites/democrats.rules.house.gov/files/BILLS-117S1605-RCP117-21.pdf

Text of Joint Explanatory Statement

https://rules.house.gov/sites/democrats.rules.house.gov/files/17S1605-RCP117-21-JES-U1.pdf

Summary

https://rules.house.gov/sites/democrats.rules.house.gov/files/17S1605-RCP117-21-summary.pdf

 

Build Back Better Act

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said yesterday that Democrat’s top legislative priority – the Build Back Better (BBB) Act – will pass before Christmas. However, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has made it clear that he is in no rush to vote for the package.

 

Five Senate committees released their respective pieces of the reconciliation package this week, and the Congressional Budget Office released cost estimates for four of those pieces.

 

Title IV – Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Legislative Text | CBO Score

Title VIII – Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Legislative Text | CBO Score

Title X – Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Legislative Text | CBO Score

Title XI – Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
Legislative Text | CBO Score

Title IX – Committee on Indian Affairs
Legislative Text

 

DOD Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Officer (CDAO)

DOD Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks issued a memo yesterday announcing the establishment of the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer (CDAO) effective February 1, 2022. The CDAO will report directly to Deputy Secretary Hicks and will serve as the department’s senior official responsible for strengthening and integrating data, artificial intelligence, and digital solutions in the Department.

 

While the Pentagon already has a chief data officer, a Defense Digital Service and the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, this new position is needed to integrate all these efforts. It was one of the recommendations of the National Security Commission on AI.

 

The goal is for the CDAO to reach full operating capability no later than June 1, 2022.

 

National Defense Strategy

Colin Kahl, DOD Undersecretary for Policy, said yesterday that a new National Defense Strategy (NDS) is expected to be released early next year along with the Nuclear Posture Review and the Missile Defense Review. The NDS itself is under the National Security Strategy, which will come out first. The current National Defense Strategy is from 2018. The White House released an interim National Security Strategy in March and approved the classified Global Posture Review on November 29.

GAO Issues Report on Defense Contractor Cybersecurity

This week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report, Defense Contractor Cybersecurity: Stakeholder Communication and Performance Goals Could Improve Certification Framework, which reviewed DOD’s implementation of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). The report focused on what steps DOD took to develop CMMC, the extent to which DOD made progress in implementing CMMC (including communication with industry), and the extent to which DOD has developed plans to assess the effectiveness of CMMC.

 

GAO issued three recommendations that DOD concurred with and outlined plans to address them in CMMC 2.0:

 

  1. The Secretary of Defense should ensure the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment provides sufficient and timely communication to industry on Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, including when additional information will be forthcoming.

 

  1. The Secretary of Defense should ensure the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment develops a plan to evaluate the effectiveness of Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification’s pilot, including establishing measurable objectives, collecting relevant data, and identifying lessons and plans to use that information to inform future decisions about the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification.

 

  1. The Secretary of Defense should ensure the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment develop outcome-oriented performance measures to evaluate the effectiveness of Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification as a component of the department’s efforts to enhance cybersecurity for the defense industrial base.

 

Vaccine Mandate for Federal Contractors

Today the Office of Management and Budget issued guidance on implementing requirements of the vaccine mandate executive order given recent court orders and injunctions:

 

  • For existing contracts or contract-like instruments (hereinafter “contracts”) that contain a clause implementing requirements of Executive Order 14042: The Government will take no action to enforce the clause implementing requirements of Executive Order 14042, absent further written notice from the agency, where the place of performance identified in the contract is in a U.S. state or outlying area subject to a court order prohibiting the application of requirements pursuant to the Executive Order (hereinafter, “Excluded State or Outlying Area”). In all other circumstances, the Government will enforce the clause, except for contractor employees who perform substantial work on or in connection with a covered contract in an Excluded State or Outlying Area, or in a covered contractor workplace located in an Excluded State or Outlying Area.
  • Currently Excluded States and Outlying Areas: All of the United States and its outlying areas, including:
    1. The fifty States;
    2. The District of Columbia;
    3. The commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands;
    4. The territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the United States Virgin Islands; and
    5. The minor outlying islands of Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Palmyra Atoll, and Wake Atoll.
  • NOTE: Federal agency COVID-19 workplace safety protocols for Federal buildings and Federally controlled facilities still apply in all locations. Contractor employees working onsite in those buildings and facilities must still follow Federal agency workplace safety protocols when working onsite.

Administration Issues COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Standards for Companies with 100+ Employees

This week the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an interim final rule to require employers with 100 or more employees to ensure each of their workers is full vaccinated or tests negative for COVID at least once a week and wears a face covering at work. 

 
Compliance dates for the OSHA COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) are as follows:
 
  • 30 days after publication of the rule in the Federal Register: All requirements other than testing for employees who have not completed their entire primary vaccination dose(s)
  • 60 days after publication: Testing for employees who have not received all doses required for a primary vaccination
 
The ETS requires employers to determine the vaccination status of each employee, obtain an acceptable proof of vaccination, maintain records of each employee’s vaccination status, and maintain a roster of each employee’s vaccination status. The ETS also includes requirements for: employer support for employee vaccination, employee notification to employer of a positive COVID-19 test and removal, face coverings, information provided to employees, reporting COVID-19 fatalities and hospitalizations to OSHA, and availability of records.
 
Written comments on this rule must be submitted within 30 days after publication. Directions on how to submit written comments are in the attached rule.
 
White House Press call
 
White House Fact Sheet

OSHA Webinar on COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS
 
Materials Incorporated by Reference in the OSHA COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS
 
OSHA About the ETS Fact Sheet
 
OSHA ETS Summary
 
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also issued a rule requiring healthcare workers at facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid to be fully vaccinated. 
 
CMS Press Release
 
CMS Interim Final Rule
 
And, lastly, the White House announced that it will be aligning the deadline for the previously announced requirement for employees of federal contractors to be fully vaccinated with these new OSHA and CMS rules. This single, consistent deadline across all three requirements is January 4, 2022. Any employee covered by the CMS or federal contractor requirement must have their final vaccination dose by January 4th. And employers covered by the OSHA rule will need to ensure their employees have received their finally vaccination dose by January 4th, with at least weekly testing required for unvaccinated employees after that.

House Passes Debt Ceiling Legislation

Debt Ceiling

The House approved a bill on Tuesday that will briefly lift the debt ceiling until about December 3, 2021 (the same day the current continuing resolution funding the federal government expires). The bill increases the Treasury Department’s borrowing authority by $480B to nearly $28.9T. President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law.

 

Bipartisan $1.2T Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) (Infrastructure)

and

$3.5T Build Back Better Budget Act (Budget Reconciliation)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) want to send a budget reconciliation package and an infrastructure bill to the President’s desk before November. However, they are no way near reaching a deal on budget reconciliation within their own caucus even on the topline spending number. Progressives are pushing for $3.5T or more, while moderates in the party have suggested $1.5T is a more appropriate topline figure. President Biden has suggested a compromise of $2T. Without a compromise on the overall amount, the rest of the details for the reconciliation package can’t be ironed out. Once an overall spending level is agreed on, Progressives will have to determine what social spending or climate programs they are amenable to cutting to get to that spending level. Another option is to trim the duration of the programs instead of cutting them. However, the New Democratic Coalition (the House’s biggest moderate caucus) is arguing that a smaller package should focus on long-term certainty for a handful of priority programs. It may take until the end of the calendar year for Democrats to reach an agreement within their caucus. If that’s the case, then a longer-term lift of the debt ceiling could be included in a final budget reconciliation bill.

 

Upcoming Deadlines

Highway Authorization – October 31, 2021

FY2022 Appropriations Bills – December 3, 2021

Debt Ceiling – Approx. December 3, 2021 (Some forecasters say this latest increase in borrowing authority could allow Treasury to keep paying its bills through the end of the calendar year or even slightly into 2022.)

Senate Passes Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

The Senate passed a $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) by a vote of 69 to 30 today. While this marks a major milestone for getting the bill enacted into law, there are a few more hurdles to overcome.

The bill now goes to the House for consideration. If the House passes the bill without any changes it would go directly to the President for his signature. The White House has privately cautioned House Democrats about making any changes to the bill saying it would risk delaying or blowing up the deal.

 
Another complication is that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has said she won’t bring the bipartisan infrastructure bill to the House floor for a vote until the Senate also passes a much larger budget reconciliation package that includes funding for the party’s climate, health, and social priorities. The Senate released a $3.5T budget resolution on Monday that begins the budget reconciliation process. This budget framework instructs a number of Senate committees to draft their pieces of the reconciliation proposal by September 15. They hope to pass the budget resolution by Thursday of this week, but the budget reconciliation package won’t be completed until later in September.
 
Moderate Democrats in the House are encouraging the Speaker to bring the chamber back into session as soon as possible for a vote on the infrastructure bill. The House is not scheduled to come back until September 20. 

Senate Republicans Unveil Infrastructure Framework

A group of Senate Republicans lead by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) unveiled a $568B infrastructure proposal today. This is their counteroffer to President Biden’s proposed $2.3T American Jobs Plan

 
Their proposal more narrowly defines infrastructure to roads and bridges ($699B), public transit systems ($61B), rail ($20B), safety (includes PHMSA)  ($13B), drinking water and waste water infrastructure ($35B), inland waterways and ports ($17B), airports ($44B), broadband infrastructure ($65B), and water storage ($14B). They believe that it should be fully paid for to avoid increasing the national debt and that all users (e.g. electric vehicles) should contribute. They also want to preserve the 2017 tax cuts, including extending the cap on the state and local tax deduction and not increasing corporate (21%) or international taxes.
 
It isn’t clear if Democrats will “go big” right out of the gate, or embrace a two-bill strategy – one bipartisan smaller bill funding traditional infrastructure followed by a 2nd larger bill passed through the budget reconciliation process with only Democratic support. 
 

House Democrats Introduce Bill to Fund Federal Government Through December 11, 2020

Today House Democrats released a continuing resolution (CR) that would fund the federal government at FY 2020 levels when the FY2020 appropriations bills expire on September 30. The CR funds the federal government through December 11, 2020.

 

Under a CR, agencies are not allowed to initiate or resume any project or activity for which appropriations, funds, or other authority were not available in FY2020 (translation: no new starts under a CR).

 

The CR also includes, among other things, the following:

  • Additional funding for Presidential Inauguration activities, transition activities, transition archival activities, and transition office space
  • One-Year extension of the highway authorization at FY2020 levels
  • Authorization of the National Flood Insurance Program through September 30, 2021
  • One-Year reauthorization of the Appalachian Regional Commission
  • Extensions of funding and authorizations for public health programs
  • Medicare and Medicaid funding and authorization extenders
  • Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act
  • United State Parole Commission Extension Act
  • Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Permanent Extension Act
  • Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act

 

The CR does not include the $30B in farm aid that the administration was seeking to replenish funding for the U.S. Dept of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corp. President Trump had announced $13B in new aid to farmers at a rally in Wisconsin on Thursday. Democrats had considered including the additional farm funding in the CR in exchange for $2B in child nutrition funding, but then canceled the tradeoff. Both programs are not funded in the CR.

 

The House will vote on the CR this week and then it will go to the Senate to act before September 30. Senate Republicans could potentially reject the measure, so a federal government shutdown is not out of the picture. However, support staff for Congress are affected during a shutdown. Those deemed non-essential would be furloughed. If the Senate wants to confirm a Supreme Court Justice, they are likely to want to avoid a shutdown.

Continuing Resolution Bill Text

https://rules.house.gov/sites/democrats.rules.house.gov/files/BILLS-116HR8319IH.pdf

Continuing Resolution Summary

https://appropriations.house.gov/sites/democrats.appropriations.house.gov/files/Continuing%20Appropriations%202021%20Extensions%202020%20Summary.pdf 

 

House Appropriators Begin Work on FY2021 Spending Bills

The House Appropriations Committee began work on their FY2021 spending bills last week. The committee will complete action on all 12 spending bills this week. Next week, they will package four of these bills – Agriculture, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and State-Foreign Operations – and consider them on the House floor. The week of July 27, they will take up another package of FY21 spending bills, but didn’t announce which bills would be included in that package. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) wrote in a Dear Colleague, “the House will have passed legislation to fund 96% of the government before the end of July for the second time in two years.” Most think that this means they will hold back the FY21 Homeland Security Appropriations bill from House floor consideration as it is 3.9% of the total FY21 discretionary budget.

 

Senate Appropriators have not released nor marked up any of their FY21 bills. Senate Republicans are concerned that Democrats will offer amendments on coronavirus aid (they think that should be considered separately) or on reforming police (they think that should be a separate policy bill, not a spending bill).

 

Appropriations Subcommittee

House Action

Senate Action

Agriculture

Subcommittee: July 6

Full Committee: July 9

Floor: Week of July 20

Subcommittee:

Full Committee:

Commerce-Justice-Science

Subcommittee: July 8

Full Committee: July 14

Subcommittee:

Full Committee:

Defense

Subcommittee: July 8

Full Committee: July 14

Subcommittee:

Full Committee:

Energy & Water

Subcommittee: July 7

Full Committee: July 13

Subcommittee:

Full Committee:

Financial Services

Subcommittee: July 8

Full Committee: July 15

Subcommittee:

Full Committee:

Homeland Security

Subcommittee: July 7

Full Committee: July 15

Subcommittee:

Full Committee:

Interior-Environment

Subcommittee: July 7

Full Committee: July 10

Floor: Week of July 20

Subcommittee:

Full Committee:

Labor-HHS-Education

Subcommittee: July 7

Full Committee: July 13

Subcommittee:

Full Committee:

Legislative Branch

Subcommittee: July 7

Full Committee: July 10

Subcommittee:

Full Committee:

Military Construction-Veterans Affairs

Subcommittee: July 6

Full Committee: July 9

Floor: Week of July 20

Subcommittee:

Full Committee:

State-Foreign Operations

Subcommittee: July 6

Full Committee: July 9

Floor: Week of July 20

Subcommittee:

Full Committee:

Transportation-HUD

Subcommittee: July 8

Full Committee: July 14

Subcommittee:

Full Committee:

 

As they were marking up their FY21 bills, House Appropriators set the overall funding levels – called 302(b)s – for each subcommittee. Here’s how the House funding levels compare with the enacted levels for FY20.

 

Appropriations Subcommittee

FY20 Enacted

FY21 House

FY21 Senate

FY21 Conference

Agriculture

$23.6B

$23.980B

 

 

Commerce-Justice-Science

$78.9B

$71.473B

 

 

Defense

$695.1B

$626.190B

 

 

Energy & Water

$48.3B

$49.607B

 

 

Financial Services

$24.0B

$24.636B

 

 

Homeland Security

$67.9B

$50.718B

 

 

Interior-Environment

$38.2B

$36.760B

 

 

Labor-HHS-Education

$194.6B

$182.914B

 

 

Legislative Branch

$5.0B

$5.300B

 

 

Military Construction-Veterans Affairs

$110.4B

$102.648B

 

 

State-Foreign Operations

$54.7B

$47.850B

 

 

Transportation-HUD

$74.3B

$75.924B

 

 

 

The end of the fiscal year is September 30. Congress likely will have to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government past September 30. A CR basically funds the government at the prior year’s funding levels and doesn’t allow for any new starts.

 

I went through some of the House FY21 spending bills and pulled funding levels and language for programs I thought would be of interest to FOSA members.

House Committee Passes Highway Bill; Speaker Pelosi Announces $1.5T Infrastructure Bill

Last night, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed H.R. 2, the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act by a voice vote after agreeing to the Chairman’s amendment in the nature of a substitute by a partisan vote of 35 to 25. The final vote came after two days and 24 hours of debate that included the consideration of 177 amendments, of which 34 Republican amendments and 23 Democratic amendments were adopted.
 
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced yesterday that they are going to merge several other bills with the INVEST Act and bring it to the House floor for a vote the week of June 29. The combined $1.5T Moving Forward Act will include the INVEST Act plus $100 billion to promote competition for broadband internet infrastructure to unserved and underserved rural, suburban, and urban communities; $25B for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund; $40B in new wastewater infrastructure; $70B for clean energy projects (including upgrading the electric grid and making it more resilient); $100B to upgrade schools in impoverished districts; $100B for affordable housing; $30B to upgrade hospitals, community health centers, clinical laboratories and Native American health facilities; $3B for shovel-ready projects to restore Great Lakes and coastal habitats and marine ecosystems; and $25B for equipment upgrades at the U.S. Postal Service.
 
The big unanswered question is how to pay for it. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richie Neal (D-MA) has indicated that he will “lean on our tax code,” reinstate Build America Bonds and Advance Refunding Bonds, and increase and expand the issuance of Private Activity Bonds. Speaker Pelosi said that “with the interest rates where they are now, there’s never been a better time for us to go big.” One financing option that is not being discussed is raising the gas tax or imposing other fees. With the election less than five months away, both of these options would be a difficult sell to any members, regardless of their party affiliation.

Congress Passes Fourth Coronavirus Response Bill

The Senate amended and passed H.R. 266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act earlier this week by voice vote. The House took up the measure yesterday and passed it by a vote of 388 (yea) to 5 (nay) to 1 (present). Four Republicans (Biggs – AZ, Buck – CO, Hice – GA, and Massie – KY) and one Democrat (Ocasio-Cortez – NY) voted no. Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI) voted present.

The $484B relief package amends the original Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide an additional $310B for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program and an additional $10B for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Emergency Grants. The bill also makes agricultural enterprises with 500 or fewer employees eligible for EIDL grants. And it provides set asides of not less than $30B for insured depository institutions, credit unions, and community financial institutions with consolidated assets between $10B-$50B and not less than $30B for insured depository institutions, credit unions, and community financial institutions with consolidated assets less than $10B. To prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, the bill provided an additional $2.1B to the U.S. Small Business Administration for salaries and expenses to administer these programs.

The bill also provides the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) an additional $1T for its Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. Seventy-five billion is health care providers for health care related expenses or lost revenues that are attributable to coronavirus, and $25B is for research, development, validation, manufacturing, purchase, administration, and expanding capacity for COVID–19 tests to effectively monitor and suppress COVID–19, including tests for both active infection and prior exposure. The HHS Inspector General will receive $6M of the bill’s funds for oversight.

President Trump will sign the measure in a noon ceremony in the Oval Office.

H.R. 266, Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act

https://www.congress.gov/116/bills/hr266/BILLS-116hr266eas.pdf

What’s Next?

While H.R. 266 is the fourth bill passed by Congress to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, Congressional leaders and the administration have described it as an interim step or a CARES Act 2.0 as they negotiate the next package that they are referring to as “phase four.”

Congressional leaders have acknowledged that they need to do more. President Trump said this week that a phase four stimulus would include funding for road projects and expanding broadband service. He also wants a payroll tax cut and tax breaks for restaurants, sports and entertainment interests. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wants to extend enhanced unemployment insurance benefits past their current July 31 expiration, and provide another round of tax rebate checks. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the next bill should include funds for state and local governments, hazard pay for front-line workers, food aid, election security and funds for the U.S. Postal Service. Governors across the country are requesting at least $500 billion for state aid in the next bill. And sixty members of the New Democrat coalition asked House leadership in a letter to include policies in the next coronavirus stimulus bill to help communities start to reopen. The group details proposals on testing, surveillance and contact tracing.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), on the other hand, wants to wait and see how the first three stimulus bills work before adding additional debt. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pushed back on McConnell saying that with interest rates very low the cost of carrying the debt to the American taxpayer is quite low.

This next phase of economic stimulus likely will be the last before the 2020 elections. Congress isn’t scheduled to return to D.C. until May 4, but staff and members are negotiating and preparing a phase four in the meantime.