Capitol to Capitol | Aug. 3, 2020

8/3/2020

Update on Stimulus 4

Negotiations over the weekend and Monday failed to progress far enough to continue even a short-term extension of expiring unemployment benefits for out-of-work Americans, much less for the more comprehensive stimulus package. Members of both parties could not agree on the amount of UI benefits to provide and remain far apart on the larger stimulus bill to help states, citizens and businesses weather the pandemic. House members are back in their districts for the August recess, with members being on call to return to D.C. within 24 hours if a deal is reached. Check out NCSL’s highlights of the Senate’s HEALS Act.

Read more.

NCSL Contact:  Erlinda Doherty

Live! NCSL’s Town Hall Series on Federal Stimulus Funding

The U.S. Treasury Department’s recent Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) spending report does not provide a complete picture of states’ actions with the CRF funds. As Congress develops what is likely to be the final significant federal response package, it is critical to understand the current state use of CRF funds and the need for additional fiscal relief. Tune in this week to NCSL’s Facebook page to hear from state budget experts and state leaders on these important issues.

Monday, Aug. 3, 1 p.m. ET (watch recording)

State Budget Update and COVID-19 Spending

Tuesday, Aug. 4, 11:30 a.m. ET (watch recording)

Georgia State Update

Wednesday, Aug. 5, 11 a.m. ET

Nevada State Update

NCSL Contact: Erlinda Doherty

House Passes Massive “Minibus” for FY 2021 Appropriations

The House’s $1.3 trillion, six-bill FY 2021 spending package (H.R. 7616) would fund the majority of the federal government and increase budgets for the Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Homeland Security, Justice, Transportation, and Energy departments, as well as other programs. The Senate appropriations process has essentially stalled, and the president has already expressed he will veto H.R. 7617. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Erlinda Doherty

President Extends National Guard Mission

On Aug. 3, the Trump administration extended the federal deployment of nearly 25,000 National Guard members serving the nation’s Coronavirus relief effort until the end of 2020. However, the administration reduced the level of federal cost-sharing from existing levels. The memo was sent to the secretaries of defense and homeland security. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Jon Jukuri and Michael Quillen

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Updates Guidance on K-12 School Reopening

The CDC recommends that school districts make decisions about reopening schools for in-person instruction based on local needs and the levels of COVID-19 transmission in their communities. The agency advised against screening all students for symptoms, recommended not closing down entire schools if one person tests positive, and offered more guidance on the use of face masks in classroom settings. The guidance also provides new information on decision-making tools and checklists for parents and an FAQ for administrators. The CDC will continue to develop new resources to help schools reopen, including more guidance for institutions of higher education. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Jocelyn Salguero and Austin Reid

HHS Extends Public Health Emergency

The department renewed the public health emergency period, which will remain in effect for 90 days or until the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services determines the emergency no longer exists, or whichever happens first. The secretary may extend the declaration for subsequent 90-day periods if the emergency continues.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicolson and Margaret Wile 

Trump Administration Releases Executive Orders on Lowering Drug Prices

The four executive orders address prescription drug pricing. The  orders look to reform discounts received in Medicare Part D, allow for the safe importation of drugs through waivers to individuals to purchase drugs at a lower cost from pre-authorized U.S. pharmacies, and ensure seniors pay no more for the most expensive Medicare Part B drugs than any other economically comparable country. The orders also finalize a rule allowing states to develop safe importation plans for certain prescription drugs.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicolson and Margaret Wile 

Department of Education Awards $180 million to 11 States for K-12 Education

Congress set aside 1% of the $30.75 billion allotted to the Education Stabilization Fund through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act for grants to states with the highest COVID-19 burden. The Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant will support states’ efforts to provide families with access to technology and services to advance remote learning. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Jocelyn Salguero and Austin Reid

DOT Announces Initiative to Increase Access to Grants for Rural Communities

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the Applicant Toolkit as part of its Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) Initiative, which aims to improve rural access to federal grant funds. The Toolkit provides user-friendly information and resources to enhance rural applicants’ familiarity with the department’s discretionary grant programs and the funding process. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

HHS and DoD COVID-19 Vaccine Agreement With Pfizer

The agencies announced an agreement with the company for large-scale production and the nationwide delivery of 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. The distribution is contingent upon the vaccine’s successful manufacture and approval, and allows the U.S. government to acquire an additional 500 million doses. HHS and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority have worked on similar agreements and awarded funds to several prescription drug manufacturers to produce and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine once it’s approved. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicolson and Margaret Wile 

Supreme Court Roudup: Part 2 | 3 p.m. ET today

The U.S. Supreme Court had an exciting term, with groundbreaking cases and a pivot to virtual oral arguments. Tune in to hear Lisa Soronen, chief counsel and executive director of the State and Local Legal Center, discuss the Supreme Court cases that will have the greatest state impact. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Lisa SoronenState & Local Legal Center

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Read the July 27 Capitol to Capitol.

NCSL's Advocacy in Washington

NCSL’s Washington staff advocates on behalf of state legislatures before Congress, the White House and federal agencies in accord with the policy directives and resolutions that are recommended by the NCSL Standing Committees and adopted by the full conference at the annual NCSL Legislative Summit Business Meeting. As a result of the advocacy that is guided by these policies' positions, NCSL is recognized as a formidable lobbying force in state-federal relations.

NCSL Staff in Washington, D.C.

  • Molly Ramsdell | 202-624-3584 | Director
  • Erlinda Doherty | 202-624-8698 | Budgets and Revenue
  • Susan Frederick | 202-624-3566 | Law, Criminal Justice, and Public Safety
  • Abbie Gruwell 202-624-3569 | Commerce and Financial Services
  • Ben Husch | 202-624-7779 | Natural Resources and Infrastructure 
  • Jon Jukuri  | 202-624-8663 | Labor, Economic Development and International Trade
  • Haley Nicholson | 202-624-8662 | Health and Human Services
  • Austin Reid | 202-624-8678 | Education