Capitol to Capitol | July 13, 2020

7/13/2020

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 Contacts: Erlinda Doherty and Susan Frederick

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 letteto 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). 

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicolson and Margaret Wile

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.

NCSL Contact: Erlinda Doherty

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.

NCSL Contacts: Jon Jukuri and Michael Quillen

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. 

NCSL Contact: Erlinda Doherty

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.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Jocelyn Salguero  

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.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Jocelyn Salguero  

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.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

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.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Jocelyn Salguero  

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.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Jocelyn Salguero  

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.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicolson and Margaret Wile

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.

NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicolson and Margaret Wile

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.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

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

In Every Edition

Read the June 29 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