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What's Ahead in Washington


Stimulus Talks Struggling but Will Continue; Trump Promises Executive Action
The four negotiators, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, emerged from a more than three-hour meeting Thursday night with little to show and with no guarantee they would resume talks today. However, Friday morning, the Speaker and Minority Leader invited the White House to resume talks. The group planned to meet at 1:30 pm Eastern. 

“We remain committed to continue negotiating and reaching a fair agreement with the Administration, but we will not go along with the meager legislative proposals that fail to address the gravity of the health and economic situation our country faces,” Pelosi and Schumer said, in a joint statement.

Mnuchin and Meadows said that while talks made progress on a few areas of possible compromise, there still are disagreements on the topline numbers for a stimulus bill and on the biggest individual provisions, including aid to state and local governments that Democrats want.

“The differences are still significant,” Meadows said.
 
With no deal immediately in the offing, President Donald Trump said Thursday he is ready to sign orders extending enhanced unemployment benefits for the jobless and imposing a payroll tax holiday for employers and workers.
 
Meadows told reporters there are limitations if President Trump signs executive orders but the White House “will be as aggressive and robust as we possibly can be.”
 
Earlier in the day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said negotiations on a new virus relief package were making progress, but the two sides remained at an impasse on major issues with their self-imposed Friday deadline for an agreement looming.
From the Financial Times

 
No August Break in the Senate
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) criticized Democratic leaders on Thursday, citing “no significant move toward progress” on stimulus talks. It’s “another week that the Speaker of the House and the Democratic Leader have spent stonewalling the President’s team in talks and holding out for ideological pet projects with no relationship whatsoever to the COVID crisis. And now, as a result, struggling Americans are facing another cliff, with another important form of relief on its last legs.”
 
He plans to keep the Senate in session rather than adjourning for August break. Senators will be called back to DC if needed.
 
“The Senate will be convening in Washington on Monday and I will be right here,” McConnell continued in his opening floor remarks.
From Bloomberg reports


Hospitals Should Be Allowed to Fix Ventilators
Hospitals should be able to fix the breathing machines needed for Covid-19 patients even if those repairs violate manufacturer contracts, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) said this week in unveiling legislation on the topic. The bill would cut barriers that manufacturers levy on hospitals seeking to quickly repair machines either in-house, or via third-party repair firms.

“It’s a racket,” Wyden told reporters. Wyden sponsored the bill alongside Representative Yvette Clarke (D-NY).
From Sen. Wyden press office and Bloomberg reports


Leading Lawmakers Back Extending Highway Law
Bipartisan support is growing to extend temporarily the nation’s highway law as Congress stalls on negotiating a new authorization ahead of the September deadline. Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) backs extending the law that funds highways, public transportation, and rail, known together as surface transportation.

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) whose committee oversees the bill’s funding portion, also supports an extension if House Democrats and the White House fail to strike a deal on the package the House passed earlier this summer (HR 2).
From Bloomberg reports


The House is not in session the week of August 10, 2020
The Senate is in session the week of August 10, 2020.


There are no committee hearings in either chamber.
 

 

Not to be missed


Senators Unveil $10B Broadband Bill to Aid Underserved Areas
Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Tim Scott (R-SC), and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced a bill that would allocate $10 billion to a fund aimed at deploying broadband in areas that lack service.
 
The “Governors’ Broadband Development Fund” would provide each U.S. state with a minimum of $75 million; remaining money would be distributed based on state populations, according to a joint statement from the lawmakers.
 
The bill would require 30% of a state’s funding to be used in Opportunity Zones.
Funds could be spent on infrastructure development, providing free or reduced cost broadband service, community center improvements, and other applications
NOTE: About 21 million Americans lack access to the FCC standard for high-speed broadband, with 16 million living in rural areas, 5 million in urban areas, according to the statement.
From Senator Warner’s office


Lack of Cyber Testing Leaves Energy Grid Vulnerable
The ability of government and industry to perform regular, comprehensive cyber testing to protect the energy grid is limited by a complicated patchwork of oversight, witnesses told a Senate panel Wednesday, potentially leaving the U.S. exposed to an attack.
 
An Energy Department official, as well as power industry representatives, said jurisdiction over testing the strength of networks is constrained by the different players’ existing authorities and responsibilities.
 
“It’s not within our jurisdiction to try and red team, or hack into, their systems,” Thomas O’Brien, senior vice president and chief information officer of PJM Interconnection, told Senate Energy and Natural Resources lawmakers during a hearing, referring to the organization’s member companies. PJM Interconnection is a regional transmission organization that coordinates electricity for several states in the East, Midwest and South.
 
The senior adviser for the Energy Department’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response said much the same thing. The government does security testing, including red teaming, on federally-owned assets, like the four Power Marketing Administrations and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Alexander Gates said.
From Bloomberg reports


U.S. Lifts Advisory on International Travel
The State Department has lifted its global level 4 health advisory put in place on March 19 that had advised U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, it said today in an emailed statement. The State Department is returning to a system of country-specific levels of advisories, saying that conditions are “improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others.”
From CNN

 
Back to Basics on Cleaning Aircraft
TSouthwest Airlines is throttling back on its passenger cabin cleaning procedures instituted because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The changes -- such as no longer sanitizing seat belts between flights -- will reduce the time aircraft spend on the ground between flights, the airline told flight attendants in a memo obtained by CNN. Deep overnight cleanings will continue.
"As our flight schedule evolves, we are returning to standard turnaround time," says the memo.
From CNN
 

KBS Best

Jack Cooper Transport Celebrates a Milestone

Congratulations to the leadership team of Jack Cooper Transport—a KBS client since 2015. Jack Cooper is the largest over-the-road transporter of light-vehicles in both the United States and Canada, with its roots in Kansas City, Missouri.

Exactly one year ago this week, Jack Cooper filed for a voluntary Chapter 11 in order to implement a comprehensive restructuring of its debt. They were told that what they were striving to do was virtually impossible.  In fact, no other unionized carhauler in history had come out of a bankruptcy and continued operations. 
 
But against the odds, they emerged less than three months later as a stronger organization. That strength enabled them to weather two incredibly difficult storms since last August.  First was the longest UAW strike in nearly five decades against General Motors, their largest customer.  This unfortunately resulted in many layoffs across Jack Cooper and a significant loss of revenue at a critical time.

Then, just as Jack Cooper was starting to fire on all cylinders, the world was hit with a global pandemic that halted auto production across the entire auto industry for nearly three months.  This not only devastated revenue for the company, but hurt employees as well. Many endured hours on hold with unemployment offices, uncertainty of personal finances, and even illness.

But Jack Cooper has persevered, implementing safety measures, utilizing new technology, and moving forward against the odds. All of us at KBS offer our heartfelt congrats and look forward to better roads ahead.
 
KBS Partner Kenny Hulshof has worked with Jack Cooper for more than five years.


KBS In the News
Report: $29B in economic activity for Missouri from military


The report mentioned in this news story represents a key effort in KBS’s role as lead consultant to the State of Missouri and the Office of Missouri Military Advocate.

Military spending in Missouri totaled approximately $18.2 billion in the 2018 fiscal year, and that spending accounted for more than $29 billion in economic activity for the state, according to a report released Monday by the Missouri Department of Economic Development.
 
Military spending in Missouri totaled approximately $18.2 billion in the 2018 fiscal year, and that spending accounted for more than $29 billion in economic activity for the state, according to a report released Monday by the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

The new report from consulting firms Kit Bond Strategies and Development Strategies, both of St. Louis, did not break down the economic impacts of military spending and operations in Missouri down to a regional or county level.
 
Missouri is home to several major military installations and national security assets, as well as other military-related operations and activities — among them: the U.S. Army's Ft. Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base are on the edges of the Mid-Missouri area; Boeing Defense and Security in St. Louis has built fighter jet aircraft; and the National Security Campus in Kansas City, operated by Honeywell Federal Manufacturing and Technologies, manufactures or procures non-nuclear components for nuclear weapons.
From the Jeff City News Tribune

Kudos to KBS Director Mike Dubois for his outstanding work on this report! 

 
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