COVID-19 Federal Updates: April 9
Updated: Jun 9, 2020
Roughly 6.6 million Americans filed new applications for unemployment benefits in the first week of April, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a statement clarifying that residents do not need to do anything to obtain the stimulus package funds if they filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019. The IRS will use information from those tax filings to identify a bank account number for direct deposit or a physical check will be sent to the address on file with the agency.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown continued his call for "pandemic pay" for workers at a high risk of being infected with COVID-19, such as health care workers on Wednesday
The proposal would also seek to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers at a heightened risk of exposure through enacting an "emergency standard."
Funding for the bonuses would come from a new COVID-19 "Heroes Fund" which Brown said could receive funding from both the federal government and businesses; see here for more details about the possibility of a “Heroes Fund”.
On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Rob Portman said the next round of federal legislation aimed at mitigating the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic would fill gaps in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act -- the $2 trillion COVID-19 (CV-19) relief bill signed into law last month -- as well as act as a stimulus package for the economy.
Portman said local communities in Ohio that rely on income tax are losing revenue even as their costs increase due to the pandemic.
House lawmakers introduced a pair of bills Wednesday aimed at cracking down on excessive pricing, as Senators asked the U.S. Department of Justice to better enforce a White House order targeting price gouging and hoarding of medical supplies during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Hill: The Senate on Thursday blocked dueling plans to provide hundreds of billions to help small businesses contend with the coronavirus-fueled economic meltdown amid a stalemate over the scope of the package.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to pass an additional $250 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides loans and grants to small businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Democrats objected, referring to it as a “political stunt.”
Instead, Democrats tried to offer their own alternative to amend the GOP plan to include $100 billion for hospitals, $150 billion for state and local governments and an expansion of food assistance, in addition to the small business funding. Republicans, similarly, rejected the Democratic measure.
The partisan impasse very likely throws the process into limbo until at least Monday, when the Senate is next expected to be in session.
Even if the Senate had been able to pass the bill on Thursday, it faced an uncertain timeline in the House.
U.S. DOL Reminds Employers That They Cannot Retaliate Against Workers Reporting Unsafe Conditions during Coronavirus Pandemic (HERE)
OSHA is reminding employers that it is illegal to retaliate against workers because they report unsafe and unhealthful working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. Acts of retaliation can include terminations, demotions, denials of overtime or promotion, or reductions in pay or hours.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) continues to monitor how the crisis is affecting the American public on the cybersecurity and infrastructure security front.
CISA and United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre issued an activity alert titled, COVID-19 Exploited by Malicious Cyber Actors. This joint alert seeks to address the growing use of COVID-19-related themes by malicious cyber actors and it can be found here: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/aa20-099a.
Additional Federal Guidance (as of April 8 at 8:00 a.m.):
CDC - Guidance for Childcare Programs that Remain Open (Click here)
CDC - Guidance for Building Water Systems (Click here)
FDA - April 7 Daily Roundup (Click here)
GSA - Coronavirus Acquisition-Related Information and Resources (Click here)
GSA - COVID-19 Acquisition Resources Hub (Click here)
DOT - U.S. Department of Transportation Issues Final Order on Service Obligations for Air Carriers Receiving Financial Relief Through CARES Act (Click here)