In This Week's Edition of Snapshot...
- Next week, both the Senate and House of Representatives have announced votes on different legislation in response to the nation-wide protests calling for changes to policing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced the Senate will plan to hold a procedural vote on Senator Tim Scott’s (R-SC) JUSTICE Act (S. 3985). In the House, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced that the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 7120) is scheduled for a vote on June 25, 2020.
- The House has announced they will consider legislation to make the District of Columbia the 51st state. It is unlikely the Senate will also take up legislation.
- On June 17, the Senate passed the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422). The bill would provide significant funding to conservation efforts among other changes. It now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
- On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act includes protections for LGBTQ employees from discrimination based on sex. The highly anticipated decision was authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch and joined by five other members of the Court, including Chief Justice Roberts.
U.S. Government Accountability Office
Congressional Budget Office
Check out the CBO’s breakdown of the budgetary effects of the four laws passed by Congress in response to the coronavirus crisis. The report summarizes the bills’ estimated effects on federal spending, revenues, and the deficit.
President Trump signed on June 16 the Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safer Communities that would encourage better police practices and establish a database to keep track of officers with a history of excessive use-of-force complaints, among other actions. The order also directs the Attorney General to allocate Department of Justice discretionary grant funding only to those State and local law enforcement agencies that have sought or are in the process of seeking appropriate credentials from a reputable independent credentialing body certified by the Attorney General.
National Economic Council
Director Larry Kudlow announced on Sunday that the Administration will not support extending the $600 additional weekly unemployment benefit created to aid those who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic when it ends at the end of July. He said the extra benefit was necessary during the height of the coronavirus lockdowns. The House-passed HEROES Act would extend the $600 additional weekly unemployment benefit through the end of January 2021. The Senate has not passed similar legislation.
Department of Commerce
On June 8, the Department of Commerce and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a 120-day pilot program to curb illegal online sales of unapproved opioids.
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
On June 10, the NTIA released the results of its latest Internet Use Survey, which shows that nearly 4 out of 5 Americans were using the Internet by November 2019, and are increasingly using a larger and more varied range of devices.
Department of Education
The Department has transmitted a rule governing the provision of “equitable services” under the CARES Act for private school attendees to the White House Office of Management and Budget for approval. Secretary Betsy DeVos pledged last month to quickly issue a rule, with the force of law, after facing pushback from education groups, Congressional Democrats, and some Republicans over her policy calling on public schools to steer a greater share of coronavirus relief support to students in private schools, regardless of their wealth. The groups argue the CARES Act calls for calculating private school kids’ share based on students in poverty.
OMB received the department’s draft of the “interim final rule”. The document will not be made public until OMB sends it to the Federal Register for publication. Interim final rules become effective immediately after publication in the Federal Register, though agencies stipulate in most cases that they will alter the interim rule if warranted by public comments. A department spokesperson said last month that the rule would be open for public comment for a minimum of 30 days.
The Federal Reserve
- On Monday, the Federal Reserve announced its plan to offer loans to small- and mid-sized nonprofit organizations as part of its "Main Street Lending Program" designed to keep employers going during the pandemic. Included are loans to nonprofit organizations that Fed Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged in his Tuesday testimony to Congress “are critical parts of our economy, employing millions of people, providing essential services to communities, and supporting innovation and the development of a highly skilled workforce.”
- The Fed is asking for public feedback on plans that would make the loans available to 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(19) organizations with 50 to 15,000 employees. Business associations organized as 501(c)(6)s would not be eligible under the program, nor would nonprofits with endowments larger than $3 billion. Nonprofits targeted under the program would be able to seek loans from $250,000 to $300 million. Principal payments would be deferred for the first two years of the loan and interest payments would be deferred for a year. Comments on the proposed rules for Nonprofit Organization Expanded Loan Facility and Nonprofit Organization New Loan Facility by the public are due by June 22.
- The Federal Reserve will start buying debt from large corporations to help the economy recover from the coronavirus. The announcement represents a shift in strategy for the central bank, which was previously only going to buy individual bonds issued by companies that approached it directly. Now the Fed will buy bonds of all eligible companies, whether they ask or not. It's the latest move by the Fed to revive an economy that fell into recession in February and has seen tens of millions of people lose jobs as the fallout from the coronavirus shut down much of the country's business activity.
Department of Health and Human Services
HHS released a rule on June 12 that would roll back Obama-era protections for transgender patients under the Affordable Care Act. According to critics of the Administration’s rule making, the policy change could lead to transgender individuals and others in the LGBTQ community being denied health-care services. The rule, which will take effect in 60 days, will only be enforced on Health and Human Services programs. HHS officials said that the policy is being changed to align more closely to the ACA text, which does not explicitly mention gender identity as a protected category in health care. The administration has been working on the rule for over a year; expect law suits quickly.
The Administration on Children and Families
ACF has launched a new webpage for the “All-In” Foster Adoption Challenge that features updates on the impact of the Challenge across the nation, highlighting the work of states’ efforts, community partners, the critical permanency work of courts, and stories of children and families whose lives have been changed by adoption from foster care. To learn more about the “All-In” Foster Adoption Challenge check out Assistant Secretary Lynn Johnson’s video message.
Department of Homeland Security
Federal Emergency Management Agency
As of June 14, FEMA obligated $7.1 billion in support of COVID-19 efforts:
- Emergency Food and Shelter: $200 million
- Temporary Medical Facilities including medical personnel, mortuary and ambulance services: $2.4 billion
- PPE including medical supplies and pharmaceuticals: $1.9 billion
- National Guard: $1.6 billion
- Public Assistance Emergency Protective Measures (Non-PPE): $866 million
- Commodities: $27 million
- Crisis Counseling: $29 million
Department of Housing and Urban Development
On June 17, HUD’s Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced a two-month extension of its foreclosure and eviction moratorium through August 31, 2020, for homeowners with FHA-insured single family mortgages. The congressionally mandated eviction plan applies to tenants in buildings with federally backed mortgages — covering just over 12 million of the nearly 44 million rental units in the country. House Democrats have passed their next coronavirus relief legislation that would replace the current eviction ban on federally backed properties with a 12-month expanded moratorium on evictions for all tenants. It would also give tenants $100 billion in rental assistance to prevent falling behind on payments and getting hit with a massive bill when moratoriums end. However, Senate Republicans are hesitant about appropriating further stimulus money before the last relief package has been exhausted.
Department of Treasury
- In Notice 2020-46, the IRS clarified that it won’t tax employees on sick, vacation, or personal leave they forego in exchange for cash donations to charities providing relief to coronavirus victims. The accrued leave that their employers convert to cash payments and provide to Covid-19 charities won’t be treated as compensation. Employers can deduct the cash donations as a business expense or claim a charitable contribution deduction if they meet the requirements of either tax code Section 162 or Section 170. To qualify for the relief, payments must be made before January 1, 2021 to organizations described under Section 170(c) that are aiding pandemic victims in any of the 50 states, D.C., or the five U.S. territories.
- On June 16, the Internal Revenue Service issued an alert to nursing home and other care facilities that Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) generally belong to the recipients, not the organizations providing the care, following concerns that people and businesses may be taking advantage of vulnerable populations who received the Economic Impact Payments. Also, the payments do not count in determining eligibility for Medicaid and other federal programs for a period of 12 months from receipt nor do they count as income in determining eligibility for these programs. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has also issued FAQs on this issue.
Bloomberg Tax reports that new research predicts that at least one-fifth of states will see revenues drop by at least 30 percent. Overall, states will see collections decline by an average of 20 percent -- New York, the state hardest hit by Covid-19, tops the list with revenues expected to fall 40 percent. Other states predicting over 30 percent drops include Maine, Hawaii, Massachusetts, California, Georgia, New Jersey, Nevada, North Dakota and Connecticut. Those with the least include Alaska, South Dakota, and Washington, D.C.