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Coronavirus:  Daily Legislative Updates

Agency guidance on the COVID-19 response is in flux and is changing and developing every day. We will continue to provide as much information as we can, as well as deliver updates as they become available.

 

NAPA Contacts                                                                                                         

Ashley Jackson, Senior Director of Government Affairs

Ajackson@asphaltpavement.org

 

Jay Hansen, Executive Vice President, Advocacy

Jhansen@asphaltpavement.org

 

April 2 Legislative Updates

 

Farm Bureau, ATA Call for Gas Tax Increase
In a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance and the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means, the American Farm Bureau Federation and American Trucking Associations (ATA) implored Congress to consider infrastructure investment in any phase four COVID-19 legislation. The letter recommends a gas tax increase, especially now that Americans are paying about 60 cents per gallon less for fuel today compared to one year ago. Further degradation of surface transportation efficiency, they write, “endangers the livelihood of farmers, ranchers and truck drivers employed in industries that depend on a well-maintained, reliable transportation system.” They note that more than 70 percent of America’s freight, worth $10 trillion, is moved on the highway system. NAPA asks industry leaders to contact their U.S. senators and representatives to urge them to include a multi-year surface transportation investment package in the next round of coronavirus relief legislation. It's easy -- the letter is already written. Just click here to send your letter today.

 

March 30 Legislative Updates

 

Trump, Pelosi Mention Infrastructure for Next COVID-19 Supplemental
With Congress in recess, the White House and congressional Democrats are preparing for a possible fourth round of economic stimulus and supplemental spending. White House officials have compiled lists of requests from government agencies totaling roughly $600 billion, according to Bloomberg News. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters yesterday that Democrats are gathering information on what might be needed in another round of stimulus. She said she "would hope" that infrastructure can be part of the response.

 

President Donald Trump has also tweeted his support for an infrastructure spending package moving forward, and groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are also pitching an infrastructure package as part of any fourth deal.  Read More: CNN

 

NAPA will continue to engage in grassroots efforts to seek a multi-year surface transportation investment package in the next round of coronavirus relief legislation. Click here to send a letter to your U.S. senators and representatives to urge them to include a multi-year surface transportation investment package. In addition, NAPA will continue to work with coalition partners to let our local, state, and federal leaders know that the construction industry must be designated as an essential industry. Click here to send a letter to your governor today. 

 

March 27 Legislative Updates

 

CARES Act Signed Into Law

On Friday, March 27th, the third coronavirus stimulus bill, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. While a failed attempt by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) to demand a roll call vote briefly held up the process, the measure was passed by a simple voice vote. President Donald Trump then quickly signed the $2 trillion relief package, the largest in U.S. history providing immediate assistance to many Americans, small businesses, and major industries on the edge of economic collapse amid the ongoing pandemic. The Department of Transportation will receive more than $31 billion, including $10 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program. Funding is 100 percent federal with no local match required and will be distributed by formula.

 

The House and Senate now head into recess, but many in Congress are already looking towards a “Phase 4” coronavirus stimulus bill, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) saying “This is not going to be the last bill.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told reporters he’d like to see the impact of the first three bills on the economy before committing to additional spending. There is no timeline right now for any fourth package, with the Senate not scheduled to be back in session until April 20, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) maintained his chamber would be “nimble” and come back early if necessary. The House’s return date is currently unclear.

 

NAPA will continue to seek a formal declaration of our industry as essential in the event of stop-work or shelter-in-place orders as well as a multi-year surface transportation investment package in the next round of coronavirus relief legislation.

 

U.S. Department Of Labor Releases FFCRA Guidance 
On Tues., March 24, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) released guidance on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) paid leave provisions. The FFCRA designates funds for American business owners with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid leave for employees who may have health needs or who may have to care for family members. The paid leave provisions are set to take effect on April 1, 2020, and will go through Dec. 31, 2020. The guidance provides employers and employees with information, including:

  • How an employer calculates the total number of employees for coverage;
  • How small businesses can secure an exemption;
  • How to calculate hours for part-time employees; and
  • How to determine wages employees are entitled to under the law.


The WHD released a Fact Sheet for Employers, a Fact Sheet for Employees, and a Questions and Answers Sheet. The WHD’s COVID-19 and the Workplace webpage also provides additional information on COVID-19 related to the Fair Labor Standards Act the Family and Medical Leave Act.

 

 

March 26 Legislative Updates

 

Senate Passes CARES Act
By a vote of 96-0 last night, the Senate passed S. 3548, the CARES Act, the third coronavirus emergency supplemental. The bill is the largest economic relief package in U.S. history. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced late yesterday that the House will attempt to pass the coronavirus response bill on Friday through a voice vote, in a process that wouldn’t require all members to return to Washington. House Republican leaders said they also support the strategy. This would have the bill to the President’s desk before the weekend.


However, any House member could demand a recorded, roll-call vote, which could delay the process. A handful of members, both Republican and Democrat, have expressed concerns with the bill, but it is unclear right now if any would delay final passage.

Read More: NPR

 

Trump Administration Announces Plans to Issue New Guidelines for Social Distancing
The Trump administration, in a letter penned to the nation’s governors, is planning to issue new procedures that would establish new guidelines for state and local governments to use when making decisions about "maintaining, increasing or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures" for the coronavirus pandemic. Citing the use of gathered COVID-19 testing data, Trump stated he would categorize counties across the nation as high-risk, medium-risk, or low-risk to help state and local authorities decide whether to bolster or relax social distancing measures. The classification measures would be in the hopes that some part of the country may return to work sooner than others.

 

 

March 25 Legislative Updates

  

Senate Stalls on Third Coronavirus Supplemental Appropriations Bill
Last night, lawmakers and the Trump Administration reached a bipartisan agreement on S. 3548, CARES Act, the third coronavirus emergency supplemental. Following the agreement, Senators were optimistic about a swift vote and passage of the largest economic relief package in U.S. history -- a more than $2 trillion package of spending and tax breaks to bolster the U.S. economy and fund a nationwide effort to contain the coronavirus.

 

However, a group of Senate Republicans raised a concern of a major drafting error – that a provision in the text would offer laid-off employees more money than they otherwise would have earned if they stayed at their jobs, inadvertently incentivizing employees to want to be laid off instead of going to work. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Ben Sasse (R-NE) said they would oppose a quick vote on the measure until the provision is fixed. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he, too, wants to see the unemployment provision fixed. He added that he's hoping for 24 hours to review the package, potentially setting the stage for the bill to move through the House on Friday.

 

The plan includes about $500 billion that can be used to back loans and assistance to companies, including $50 billion for loans to U.S. airlines, as well as state and local governments. It also includes $377 billion in loans for small business. For individuals, the package would provide direct payments to lower- and middle-income Americans of $1,200 for each adult, as well as $500 for each child. The bill would add $600 per person per week onto the base maximum unemployment benefit for four months, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stated in a Dear Colleague.

 

The CARES Act is currently divided into two divisions: Division A – Keeping Works Paid and Employed Act, and Division B – Emergency Appropriations for Coronavirus Health Response and Agency Operations.

 

Division A – Keeping Workers Paid and Employed Act
Division A of the CARES Act would provide $377 billion to help prevent workers from losing their jobs and small businesses from going under due to economic losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Paycheck Protection Program would provide 8 weeks of cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to small employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If the employer maintains its payroll, then the portion of the loan used for covered payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities would be forgiven. This proposal would be retroactive to Feb. 15, 2020 to help bring laid off workers back onto payrolls.

 

A section by section of Division A can be found here, and a one pager can be found here.


Division B – Emergency Appropriations for Coronavirus Health Response and Agency Operations
Division B of the CARES Act would provide $340 billion for federal agencies to support state and local governments and communities.

 

The Department of Transportation is funded at $31.1 billion, of which $10 billion is to maintain operations at the nation’s airports – these funds will be distributed by formula. Another $25 billion is provided for Transit Infrastructure Grants for transit providers, including states and local governments across the country, for operating and capital expenses. Funding will be distributed using existing FTA formulas.

 

Following the Senate approval, attention now turns to the House. However, with House members away from the Capitol due to coronavirus concerns, it is still unclear how the House will vote on the measure. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) stated on the subject that he would “be conferring with the Speaker and other House leaders to determine the best way for the House to consider the legislation the Senate passes.” He went on to state that he would “let members know [their] schedule going forward as soon as that is possible," with a tentative goal set for this Friday.

Read More: Division B Summary, Politico, The New York Times Live Updates

 

 

Earlier Updates

 

NAPA Signs on to Coalition Letter

NAPA, along with 104 other organizations, signed on to a letter to Senators Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, asking Congress to consider improvements to H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The letter proposes that a better approach would be a public program administered by the federal government to provide compensation for COVID-19 related leave. One example is the proposed program in H.R. 6198, under which the Social Security Administration (SSA) would provide financial assistance to American workers impacted by COVID-19. 

 

 For the complete archive of updates posted on March 16, 18, 19, 20, 23, and 24, click here.