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What's Ahead in Washington


Senate Republicans Get Stimulus Plan Ready
Senate Republicans will finish their own plan for a new round of pandemic relief as early as next week and only then will open negotiations with Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that he’s working with the Trump administration on drafting a GOP proposal, the first step before talks with Democrats, who’ve already put out a $3.5 trillion stimulus bill that has passed the House.

“We shouldn’t lightly add more to the national debt, but I am predicting that we will have one more rescue package, which we’ll begin to debate and discuss next week,” McConnell said during a news conference in his home state of Kentucky. McConnell said he’s been talking to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about a Republican plan for weeks, and will discuss the measure next week with Senate Republicans before bringing Democrats into talks later.
From USA Today


What’s Likely to be in the Republican Stimulus Plan?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said the next coronavirus relief package is likely to include additional “unemployment insurance for those who are unable to get back to work” and also incentives to create more jobs.

According to Bloomberg sources, the Republican plan will continue providing unemployment insurance subsidies, tax incentives for employers to avoid layoffs and encourage rehiring, and a new round of checks and direct payments sent by the IRS.

The proposal will resemble much of the historically large aid package passed in March known as the CARES Act, but it isn’t likely to include a new round of direct aid to state and local governments, or the full $600 per week unemployment subsidy, say sources.

 McConnell wants to give federal courts jurisdiction over liability claims arising from coronavirus infections to limit the legal exposure of businesses, schools and other organizations as they reopen.  “Unless you were grossly negligent, or intentionally engaged in harmful activity, you should not be subjected to successive litigation,” McConnell said.
From BGOV reports


Democrat Senators Want $350 billion for Minority Communities 
As the next stimulus begins to take place, Senate Democrats are asking for special attention for minority communities. The proposal, led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), comes as minorities have been disproportionately hit by the coronavirus. It would provide $135 billion for child care, community health care and job training, along with $215 billion for infrastructure, expanding Medicaid and providing a tax credit for homeowners and renters.

Schnumer said predominantly minority communities need the added assistance because they have been hit especially hard by the coronavirus epidemic and the ensuring economic slump.

”Long before the pandemic, long before this recession, long before this year’s protests, structural inequalities have persisted in health care and housing, the economy and education,” Schumer said today. “Covid-19 has only magnified these injustices.”
From Politico

 
Fiscal Spending Packages Headed for Vote
The House will vote next week on its first fiscal 2021 spending package, a four-bill measure that would block border wall funds and require President Donald Trump to send funds to the World Health Organization.
The measure will include Agriculture-FDA, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-VA and State and Foreign Operations appropriations, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told members in a letter this week.

Hoyer also said in the letter that the House will vote on a second package the week of July 27, though he didn’t announce which bills will be included. House lawmakers are seeking to “prevent a shutdown by ensuring that most government funding measures are passed well in advance of the end of the fiscal year” on Sept. 30, the letter said.
From BGOV reports


WRDA Ready for House Floor
The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 on Wednesday, clearing the path for the WRDA legislation to get a full vote on the House floor.
The multi-billion dollar measure sailed through committee on a unanimous voice vote. It would authorize the Army Corps of Engineers every two years to carry out specific projects and feasibility studies.
From Progressive Farmer


Spending Bill Requires Airlines to mandate face coverings
The House Appropriations Committee this week approved the Transportation-HUD spending bill that would force airlines and Amtrak to require passengers and employees to wear face coverings. The panel advanced the measure by 30-22 vote. Members adopted the amendment by voice vote to require face coverings, and to require airlines and Amtrak to provide employees with face coverings, gloves and hand sanitizer. The full bill should be taken up by the House late next week.
Read more from Mass Transit Magazine


Appropriations Bill Provides Grants Continent on Chokehold Ban
House Appropriations Committee has advanced an FY21 spending bill  that would provide grants for police oversight and make some grants contingent on a ban on chokeholds.
The measure includes $400 million in grants for police initiatives, including to implement statutes for independent investigation of law enforcement. The bill also would make state and local grants contingent on changes in police policies, including banning chokeholds. Provisions also include requiring the FBI to update a 2006 report on white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement.
From BGov reports


OSHA Virus Safety Standards Sought
A group of 10 House Republicans led by Representative David McKinley (R-WV) wants Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to press for language in the next pandemic aid legislation to direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an emergency temporary standard covering virus transmission in the workplace. OSHA leaders have resisted calls from congressional Democrats and labor unions to take such a step.
From BGOV reports


No Recess?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on CNN that she would delay or even cancel the chamber’s planned summer break if it helps to speed up talks and passage of the next coronavirus stimulus measure. “We absolutely have to,” she says, responding to a question. The House is scheduled to be gone for the month of August and return after Labor Day.


The House is in session the week of July 20, 2020
The Senate is in session the week of July 20, 2020.



Highlighted House Committee Hearings

July 21
House Committee on Energy and Commerce
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Hearing:
"Pathway to a Vaccine: Efforts to Develop a Safe, Effective and Accessible COVID-19 Vaccine"
(Virtual Hearing)
 
July 21
House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis
Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Hearing:
Hybrid Hearing on "The Urgent Need for a National Plan to Contain the Coronavirus"
(Rescheduled)
 
July 23
House Committee on Natural Resources
House Committee on Natural Resources Meeting:
The Transformation of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA)
 

Highlighted Senate Committee Hearings
July 22
Senate Judiciary Committee
Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing:
"Protecting the Integrity of College Athletics."
 
July 23
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation
Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet Hearing:
"The State of U.S. Spectrum Policy."
 


 

 

Not to be missed


Florida Governor Signs Bill Allowing Athletes to be Paid for NIL
College athletes in Florida should soon be able to get paid for the use of their names, images and likenesses, thanks to a law set to go into effect on July 1, 2021. Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill last Friday while speaking at the University of Miami.

The new law will apply to all college athletes enrolled at a university in Florida. To retain amateur status, Florida’s bill restricts players from signing endorsement deals with their own universities. Athletes can only sign deals that would see them be compensated by an unaffiliated organization. Read more


Southwest: Furloughs & Layoffs Still Possible
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly says furloughs and layoffs are still a possibility for the carrier unless it can triple its number of passengers by the end of 2020.

Kelly has urged employees to consider early retirement and long-term leave programs designed to shrink the company’s workforce during the upcoming months when federal stimulus money runs out but air traffic numbers are still expected to be down significantly.

“Although furloughs and layoffs remain our very last resort, we can’t rule them out as a possibility, obviously, in this very bad environment,” Kelly said. “We need a significant recovery by the end of this year — and that’s roughly triple the number of passengers from where we are today.”
More from the Chicago Tribune
 

Noble Health and SSM negotiating sale of Jefferson City & Mexico, MO hospitals
SSM Health on Tuesday signed a letter-of-intent with Noble Health for the possible transfer of ownership of St. Mary’s Hospital — Audrain in Mexico.

SSM previously had tried to sell its hospitals in Jefferson City and Audrain County as a package deal to University of Missouri Health Care. Negotiations ended in without a sale.

Noble Health and SSM now are in a negotiation phase for the transfer of ownership, according to a SSM news release. If successful, Noble Health, which also manages the Fulton Medical Center, would take over ownership by the end of the year. Noble Health is based in Kansas City. From the Mexico Ledger


Hospitals Told to Not Send Data to CDC
Hospitals have been told to redirect Covid 19-related data to the Department of Health and Human Services, rather than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a change the government says will improve tracking but others worry could obscure how the pandemic is evolving.

“It became clear we needed a central way to make data available,” Jose Arrieta, HHS’s chief information officer, said on a press call Wednesday. The goal is to better “allocate resources in real time.”
From USA Today


Virus Created U.S. Clean Energy Shortfall
Up to $23 billion in capital needed for U.S. clean energy projects could dry up amid the economic fallout from the pandemic, threatening the growth of renewables into 2021. That represents as much as 31 gigawatts of solar and wind projects that may be seeking tax-equity investments over the next 18 months, according to a report by Bloomberg.

Tax equity financing has been instrumental in expanding the deployment of renewables in the U.S. But now, with the economy under stress, the pool of investment has shrunk even as demand for it remains high.
From BGOV reports


PURPA Changes Could Impact Future Wind/Solar Projects
Federal regulators on Thursday imposed new limits on which energy projects fall under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, known as Purpa, which helped spur an entire generation of solar and wind farms across the country. More than 30% of solar facilities online today benefit from the law, according to BloombergNEF. The changes may alter those projects’ future prospects and eliminate a key incentive for future ones.
More from Yahoo Finance/Bloomberg


Moderna to Launch Final-Stage Vaccine Trial
Moderna posted details of its final-stage vaccine trial on an official government website, confirming that the widely-anticipated trial was still on track to begin this month. In a posting on ClinicalTrials.gov, Moderna said the trial is expected to begin on July 27. It will enroll 30,000 adults at high risk of contracting the coronavirus. The enrollees will help compare the vaccine to placebo injections and evaluate whether two doses of the vaccine, called “mRNA-1273,” will keep people Covid-19 free. The vaccine is one of the farthest along for Covid-19.
From CBS News


Russian Hackers Target Vaccine Research Centers
Russian state intelligence is hacking international research centers that are racing to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, the U.K., U.S. and Canadian governments said.

It is unclear whether research facilities have been damaged or if the vaccine programs have been set back as a result of the hacks but officials warned that the cyber attacks are ongoing.

In a dramatic statement on Thursday, Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said vaccine and therapeutic sectors in multiple countries have been targeted by a group known as APT29, which it said is “almost certainly” part of Russian state intelligence. Security agencies in the U.S. and Canada later issued their own statements backing up the findings.
From CNN

KBS Best

EWR Radar Systems, St. Louis 
With over 300 radar systems deployed worldwide, EWR Radar Systems, Inc. has been the industry leader in portable/tactical weather radar systems since 1982. EWR’s heritage in developing portable radar systems for use in tactical applications, in conjunction with the company’s dedication to the advancement of weather radar technology with state-of-the-art products and services, has made EWR the gold standard in weather radar. Headquartered in St. Louis, the company provides products and services to a wide array of clients including multiple branches of the United States Department of Defense, NATO alliance members, international militaries, utility companies, oil companies, municipalities, first-alert responders, and many more. Check out this innovative company here.
 
KBS Director Mike Dubois has worked with EWR since 2016.
 

 
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