President Donald Trump last week enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion stimulus package to help battle the catastrophic economic and public health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act provides funding to states, territories, local and tribal governments through some 50-plus programs, including $150 billion in direct aid. Please visit COVID-19 Stimulus Bill: What It Means for States for more information. Federal agencies are expected to issue further implementation guidance over the next few weeks on what is now the third law passed to provide public health and financial resources to individuals, localities and businesses to ameliorate the outbreak’s impacts. Daily updates are provided on NCSL’s webpage, COVID-19: Daily Announcements From Federal Agencies. While the House is on an “extended” break and the Senate is on recess, discussions have already begun on a fourth stimulus package and will continue this week.
EPA to Ease Enforcement During Pandemic
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a memo stating it would allow industries like oil, gas and chemical companies to delay some regulatory compliance while the nation addresses the coronavirus pandemic. The administrator has stated that “if there is an acute risk or imminent threat, [the agency] will still enforce.” The memo also said the discretion the EPA is allowing is directed more toward “recordkeeping, monitoring requirements, [and] things of that sort,” as the agency is hearing that facilities “simply don’t have the necessary personnel.”
To date, the EPA only eased specific enforcement requirements related to the coronavirus for 11 pharmaceutical facilities in Puerto Rico still powered by generators due to electrical grid damage. Agency officials said it would also consider “more tailored short-term” help for facilities deemed essential critical infrastructure by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The EPA singled out public water system operators "to continue normal operations and maintenance as well as required sampling to ensure the safety of our drinking water supplies." The agency will not require companies to catch up on monitoring or reporting that happens quarterly or more often.
The policy will not apply to criminal violations and does not eliminate the responsibility of companies from responding to oil and chemical spills and pollution violations.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Stops Collection of Defaulted Federal Student Loans
The Department of Education has halted all collection actions and wage garnishment for federal student loan borrowers for at least 60 days starting retroactively on March 13. The secretary directed the department to refund approximately $1.8 billion in offsets that have occurred since March 13 to more than 830,000 borrowers.
Trump Signs Two Laws to Boost Broadband and 5G
Two significant 5G and broadband provisions were signed into law, including a bill that requires the president to ensure 5G and next generation mobile telecommunications systems infrastructure security with the goal to protect the competitiveness of U.S. companies, privacy of U.S. consumers, and integrity of standards-setting bodies. The second bill addresses improving broadband data maps and would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to update its rules governing the information it collects from providers on broadband availability. This includes disseminating granular broadband service availability data from wired, fixed-wireless, satellite and mobile broadband providers and establishing a geocoded dataset called the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric. The FCC will also create a challenge process to enable the submission of independent data challenging the accuracy of FCC broadband maps.
FCC Temporarily Suspends Robocall Regulations
The FCC has temporarily suspended some robocall regulations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the declaratory ruling, health providers will be able to send automated calls and texts during the outbreak without violating anti-robocall laws. The FCC acted in its emergency capacity under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
DOJ Argues Title IX Does Not Include Transgender Status of High School Student Athletes
Attorney General William Barr filed a 13-page statement of interest backing a federal civil rights lawsuit that seeks to block transgender athletes in Connecticut from competing as girls in interscholastic sports. The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference allows athletes to compete as the gender with which they identify. The Department of Justice stated that Title IX “and its implementing regulations prohibit discrimination solely ‘on the basis of sex’ and not on the basis of transgender status.” The brief also states that Title IX “consistently uses ‘sex’ as a binary concept capturing only two categories: male and female.”
The Reading Room
- COVID-19 and Direct Payments to Individuals: Estimated Impact of Recovery Rebates in HR 748 on Family Incomes (CRS, March 26, 2020)
- COVID-19 and Direct Payments to Individuals: Summary of the 2020 Recovery Rebates in HR 748 (CRS, March 26, 2020)
- COVID-19: State and Local Shut-Down Orders and Exemptions for Critical Infrastructure (CRS, March 26, 2020)
- COVID-19 and Regulation of Public Drinking Water (CRS, March 26, 2020)
- COVID-19: The Potential Role of TANF in Addressing the Economic Effects (CRS, March 26, 2020)
- The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—Tax Relief for Individuals and Businesses (CRS, March 26, 2020)
- Unemployment Insurance Provisions in the CARES Act (HR 748, as Amended) (CRS, March 26, 2020)
- Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund and COVID-19 (CRS, March 26, 2020)
- The National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers: COVID-19 Assistance (CRS, March 26, 2020)
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) and COVID-19 (CRS, March 26, 2020)
- Memorandum on Estimated State Education Grants in the Care Act (March 25, 2020)
- Banking Regulators’ Response to COVID-19 (CRS, March 25, 2020)
- Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-123): First Coronavirus Supplemental (CRS, March 25, 2020)
- COVID-19 and Direct Payments to Individuals: Estimated Impact of Recovery Rebates in the March 22 CARES Act on Family Incomes (CRS, March 25, 2020)
- Section 1135 Waivers and COVID-19: An Overview (CRS, March 25, 2020)
- COVID-19: Industrial Mobilization and Defense Production Act (DPA) Implementation (CRS, March 25, 2020)
- Responding to the COVID-19 Outbreak with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Authorities (CRS, March 24, 2020)
- Congressional Oversight Provisions in P.L. 116-127, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (CRS, March 24, 2020)
- Senior Nutrition Programs’ Response to COVID-19 (CRS, March 24, 2020)
- Withdrawals and Loans from Retirement Accounts for COVID-19 Expenses (CRS, March 24, 2020)
- Providers Underuse OUD Treatments That Significantly Reduce Overdose Rates (Pew, March 23, 2020)
- COVID-19 and Funding for Civil Aviation (CRS, March 23, 2020)
- COVID-19 and Stimulus Payments to Individuals: Summary of the 2020 Recovery Rebates in the March 22 CARES Act (CRS, March 23, 2020)
- National Emergency Powers (CRS, March 23, 2020)
- Emergency Funding for Public Transportation Agencies Due to COVID-19 (CRS, March 23, 2020)
- Federal Reserve: Recent Actions in Response to COVID-19 (CRS, March 23, 2020)
- HR 5781, a bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to make an individual who is eligible for educational assistance under chapter 33 of such title, transfers such educational assistance to a dependent, and fails to complete a service agreement... (CBO, March 23, 2020)
- State and Local Fiscal Conditions and Economic Shocks (CRS, March 20, 2020)
- USDA Domestic Food Assistance Programs’ Response to COVID-19: P.L. 116-127 and Related Efforts (CRS, March 20, 2020)
- HR 6201: Paid Leave and Unemployment Insurance Responses to COVID-19 (CRS, March 20, 2020)
- COVID-19: An Overview of Trade-Related Measures to Address Access to Medical Goods (CRS, March 20, 2020)
- COVID-19 Economic Stimulus: Business Payroll Tax Cuts (CRS, March 20, 2020)
- COVID-19 and Passenger Airline Travel (CRS, March 20, 2020)
Read the March 23 Capitol to Capitol.
NCSL's Advocacy in Washington
NCSL's Washington staff advocate Congress, the White House and federal agencies on behalf of state legislatures 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