Call to Action
Negotiations are underway on the next federal COVID-19 response package and now is the time to contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to include flexible assistance to states. Tell them about the budget cuts you have already made and stress how additional state aid would support your state’s economic recovery. Read more.
NCSL and Others Call on Congress to Increase FMAP
As Congress works on the next round of COVID-19 recovery legislation, NCSL and its Big 7 state and local partners, joined by over 100 external partners, submitted a letter to congressional leadership urging them to increase the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) by an additional 5.8 percentage points and allow the increase to be retroactive to January 2020. The letter also asks Congress to rescind the Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Rule (MFAR).
CRF Update: Treasury Releases Reporting Requirements and Updated Guidance and FAQ
The Department of Treasury’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a July 2 memorandum containing instructions for reporting and record keeping for recipients of funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act’s Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). The first quarterly report is due July 17 and, as stated in the CARES Act, the OIG is responsible for monitoring and oversight of the CRF disbursements. Treasury also released an updated guidance document and updated FAQ on June 30 and July 8, respectively. Read more.
House Passes Senate Bill to Ease Cash Flow Problems for Unemployment Contributions
Under the bill, the Department of Labor regulations, which required 100% payment of unemployment contributions for furloughed staff before aid can be received, would reset to 50%. The president is expected to sign. Read more.
House Democrats Propose Spending Plan for FY21 Appropriations as Committees Plow Through Spending Bills
The House Appropriations Committee approved, along party lines, a plan last week to divide up $1.29 trillion in discretionary spending for the 12 annual appropriations bills. The FY 2021 “302(b)” allocations allow for an increase of .8%, or $10 billion, over current enacted-year levels, and the increase is expected to be split evenly between defense and nondefense programs. Meanwhile House Appropriations subcommittees approved all 12 of the regular agency funding bills, while the Senate has yet to present initial draft versions. Much of the appropriations process hinges on the outcome of the next phase of COVID-19 stimulus, as well as the November general election. This certainly has made enactment of a continuing resolution by Sept. 30 to avoid a government shutdown highly likely.
CDC Releases Guidance on COVID-19 Testing in K-12 Schools and Universities
The guidance advised against universal testing of faculty and students. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that K-12 schools implement preventive measures like social distancing, wearing masks, hand washing and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting. For universities, the CDC recommends broader testing for people who have been in contact with infected patients in settings where the disease can quickly spread, such as residence halls, bathrooms and lounges.
Paycheck Protection Program Application Deadline Extended
The president signed legislation to extend the application deadline from June 30 to Aug. 8 for the popular Paycheck Protection Program. The Treasury Department and Small Business Administration also released a list of the businesses that received assistance and a range of the loan amounts. Read more.
NCSL Contact: Tres York
Senate HELP Committee Introduced $430 Billion COVID-19 Relief Bill for Child Care and Education
The $430 billion bill provides $345 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund, including $175 billion for K-12 schools, $132 billion for higher education and $33 billion for a governor’s fund. The bill also includes a maintenance of effort requirement stating that states may not reduce their education spending for three years.
House Democrats Release Plan to Achieve Net-Zero Emissions by 2050
The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, convened by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, unveiled a congressional action plan to “solve the climate crisis.” The plan, which has little to no chance of enactment in this Congress, calls for achieving net-negative emissions during the second half of the century and identifies ways to do so, including carbon pricing, extending the solar tax credit, encouraging natural carbon sequestration through agriculture, and re-engineering domestic manufacturing. On a related note, NCSL sent a letter in September 2019 to the Energy and Commerce Committee responding to a request for guidance on the development of comprehensive climate legislation.
Borrower-Defense Veto Override Fails
The House failed to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a bill that would have undone Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ borrower-defense rule. The rule went into effect July 1, 2020. Read more.
Supreme Court Rules on State Aid to Religious Schools
Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue examined whether the Montana Supreme Court violated the U.S. Constitution when it struck down a tax-credit scholarship program that allowed students to use the scholarships to attend private schools, including religious schools. The U.S. Supreme Court sided 5-4 with Montana families, ruling that states must allow religious schools to participate in programs that provide scholarships to students attending private schools, a decision that opened the door to more public funding of religious education. Read more.
FDA Guidance for COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Licensure
The recommendations outline the data needed to facilitate the manufacturing, clinical development and approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, and convey that the FDA would expect any vaccine to prevent disease or decrease its severity in at least 50% of those who are vaccinated.
HHS Partnership With Morehouse School of Medicine
The agency announced Morehouse as the recipient of a new $40 million initiative to fight COVID-19 in racial and ethnic minority, rural and socially vulnerable communities. The school, which would enter into an agreement with Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health, would lead and coordinate a strategic network of national, state, territorial, tribal and local organizations to provide COVID-19 information to communities hardest hit by the pandemic. Read more.
USDA Announces CFAP Aid for Newly Eligible Crops
The department added 40 new fruits, vegetables, herbs, roots and commodities to the list eligible for direct aid under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), the primary tool that the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is using to send pandemic-related aid directly to farmers. The USDA has distributed more than $5.3 billion, with breakdowns by state, commodity and category available at the agency’s CFAP dashboard. Read more.
Potential Shift in Landscape for Interstate Pipelines
On June 30, the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, the second highest ranking court, ruled that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission acted unconstitutionally in its issuance of tolling orders—delays in issuing a final ruling—in response to requests from landowners who faced the prospect of eminent domain usage against their property by pipeline developers. On July 6, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the third highest federal court, ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers should have completed an environmental impact review when approving the Dakota Access Pipeline, which it previously approved. The pipeline must be emptied and shut down while the Corps completes the review. Although the U.S. Supreme Court provided a bit of relief on July 6, when it temporarily undid a freeze on a nationwide pipeline permit program that had previously been put into effect by the District Court of Montana, the high court’s ruling left in place the freeze on Keystone XL pipeline’s permit, forcing a stop to construction. Finally, all these rulings came in the same week the developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina, canceled the project after years of legal challenges. Read more.
NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth
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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