May 23 Federal Update

BeBest

·         President Trump Issues Proclamation on Honoring the Victims of the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic: On Friday, May 22, President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation honoring the victims of the novel coronavirus pandemic. In honoring all of those that have lost their lives, the proclamation orders that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, May 24, 2020.

·         President Trump Signs Executive Order on Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery: On May 19, President Trump signed an executive order to slash red tape in order to revitalize the economy and get Americans back to work. The Executive Order builds on continuing Administration efforts to put people over paperwork. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic alone, the Administration has taken over 600 regulatory actions, including suspensions, waivers, and enforcement discretions. With the executive order, President Trump is directing agencies to use all emergency authorities to identify regulations that can be withdrawn or waived to promote job creation and economic growth. Read more here (WSJ: The Covid-19 Deregulation). We look forward to continuing to work with State, local, and Tribal partners on promoting deregulation and/or smart regulation.

·         American Workforce Advisory Board Releases Recommendations on Building a Resilient and Agile Workforce: On May 19th, the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, made up of members including the CEOs of Apple, Walmart, IBM, governors, mayors, education and non-profit leaders, put forth a set of recommendations for how to build a resilient and agile workforce powered by our greatest asset — skilled American workers. The COVID-19 pandemic is underscoring the wide-ranging impact of existing disparities in access to technology, broadband, and digital literacy from how and whether students can access remote learning options to an individual’s ability to access telehealth, access new opportunities previously unavailable, and engage regularly in the digital economy. Companies and educational institutions must be nimble and flexible in the delivery systems of high quality, relevant, affordable, and verified skills training. Find the Call to Action here. Learn more about the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board here. Also see Ivanka Trump, All-Star Group Advise Aiding American Workers with ‘Unprecedented Investment’ in Technology.

·         USDA To Provide $1 Billion in Loan Guarantees for Rural Businesses and Ag Producers: On May 22, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the Department is making available up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to help rural businesses meet their working capital needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. More here. Additionally, agricultural producers that are not eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency loans may receive funding under USDA Business & Industry CARES Act Program provisions. More here.

·         USDA Updates Guidance for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP): On April 17, USDA announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to farmers and ranchers across the country impacted by COVID-19. USDA will begin accepting CFAP applications on May 26. In addition to this direct support to farmers and ranchers, USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program is partnering with regional and local distributors, whose workforces have been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat and deliver boxes to Americans in need. Find approved contractors for the program here and a list of FAQ’s here.

·         U.S. Department of the Treasury Delivering Millions of Economic Impact Payments by Prepaid Debit Card: On May 18, Treasury and the IRS began sending nearly 4 million Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) by prepaid debit card. EIP Card recipients can make purchases, get cash from in-network ATMs, and transfer funds to their personal bank account without incurring any fees. Treasury has already delivered more than 140 million Economic Impact Payments worth $239 billion to Americans by direct deposit to accounts at financial institutions, Direct Express card accounts, and by check.

·         U.S. Department of Energy Announces $53 Million for Small Business Research and Development Grants: On May 21, the U.S. Department of Energy announced 256 grants totaling $53 million to 211 small businesses in 35 States and the District of Columbia. The Phase I grants will allow small businesses to research technical feasibility of new innovations that advance the mission of the Department. 

·         DHS Announces Extension of Agreements with Canada and Mexico to Limit All Non-Essential Cross-Border Travel: On May 20, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the extension of non-essential travel across the U.S.-Mexico and U.S. Canada borders in order to limit the further spread of the Coronavirus. These measures were implemented on March 21, 2020 and were originally in place for 30 days, subject to reevaluation and further extension in light of the fluid nature of the coronavirus pandemic.  On April 20, 2020, these measures were extended for an additional 30 days and, on May 19, 2020, these measures were once again extended until June 22, 2020.

·         FEMA Releases COVID-19 Pandemic Operation Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season: In preparing for the 2020 hurricane season, the Federal Emergency Management Agency released guidance to State, local, Tribal, and Territorial officials to help them prepare for response and recovery operations. While the document focuses on hurricane season preparedness, most planning considerations can also be applied to any disaster operation in the COVID-19 environment, including no-notice incidents, spring flooding and wildfire seasons, and typhoon response.

Additional Guidance & Resources

 

·         HHS Announces $500 Million Distribution to Tribal Hospitals, Clinics, and Urban Health Centers: On May 22, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $500 million in payments from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund to the Indian Health Service (IHS) and tribal hospitals, clinics, and urban health centers to support the tribal response to COVID-19. This funding provides vital support to these healthcare facilities, which in some cases may be the only healthcare facility within a day’s traveling distance for those served. Combined with previous funding, this distribution brings the total amount of new resources to the Indian health system to $2.4 billion dollars.

·         HHS Provides $225 Million for COVID-19 Testing in Rural Communities: On May 20, HHS announced the distribution of $225 million to Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) for COVID-19 testing. These investments will support over 4,500 RHCs across the country to support COVID-19 testing efforts and expand access to testing in rural communities. Rural Health Clinics are a special designation given to health care practices in underserved rural areas by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that help ensure access to care for rural residents. 

·         CDC Issues Additional Reopening Guidance to Assist State, Local, and Tribal Leaders: CDC has issues a set of health considerations to be used by summer campsschoolsyouth sports organizationsinstitutes of higher education, and restaurants and bars, that are open. Decisions and strategies about how to operate are implemented at the state, tribal, local, and territorial levels because every locale is different, and individual jurisdictions have the authority and local awareness needed to protect their communities.

·         CDC Outlines Resources to Assist States to Open: On May 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a summary of CDC’s initiatives, activities, and tools in support of the whole-of-government response to COVID-19. The document includes information on general and healthcare surveillance as well as previously posted guidance on infection control, contact tracing, and testing. Additionally, the document includes a standardized way to look at the gating criteria in the Opening Up America Again guidance and tools to assist establishments after they open.

·         DOEd Releases Considerations for Institutes of Higher Education: On May 21, the U.S. Department of Education, in coordination with the CDC, outlined considerations for some institutes of higher education (IHE) to help protect students and employees. IHEs vary considerably in geographic location, size, and structure. As such, IHE officials can determine, in collaboration with state and local health officials, whether and how to implement these considerations while adjusting to meet the unique needs and circumstances of the IHE and local community.

·         FEMA Issues Updated Guidance on PPE Packages for Nursing Homes: Under the direction of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, FEMA is coordinating two shipments totaling a 14-day supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to nearly 15,000 nursing homes across the Nation. The mission supplements existing efforts to ensure nursing homes across the country have PPE during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. FEMA is coordinating shipping of PPE to Medicaid- and Medicare-certified nursing homes based on input from the American Health Care Association to serve as a bridge between other PPE shipments. More here.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

·         President Donald Trump Announces Operation Warp Speed To Develop Coronavirus Vaccine: On May 15 in the White House Rose Garden, President Trump announced the launch of Operation Warp Speed to deliver safe and effective coronavirus treatments and vaccines as quickly as possible. Operation Warp Speed marks a massive science, industrial, and logistical endeavor unlike anything the country has seen since the Manhattan Project. President Trump has directed nearly $10 billion to Operation Warp Speed through funding that was included in the CARES Act.

·         President Trump Announces Additional Resources for States, Territories, and Tribes to Meet Testing Goals: On Monday, May 11, President Donald J. Trump announced additional actions to ensure States, Territories, and Tribes have the resources they need to meet their testing goals. These additional resources include $11 billion in combined stimulus funding as well as approximately 12 million swabs to supplement private sector resources. By the end of the week, more than 300 retail testing sites will be operational to serve Americans in 47 States and D.C., prioritizing access to underserved communities. More here (The United States Has Built the World’s Leading Coronavirus Testing System).

·         HHS and Federal Government Continue to Partner with Private Sector in Supporting Community-Based Testing Sites for COVID-19: HHS has partnered with pharmacy and retail companies to accelerate testing for more Americans in more communities across the country. This includes helping stand-up more than 300 community-based testing sites in 44 states. Learn more and find a community-based testing site near you here.

·         FDA Continues to Expand COVID-19 Testing: The dedicated staff at FDA has been working around the clock focusing on facilitating medical countermeasures to diagnose, treat and prevent the disease, and surveilling the medical product and food supply chains for potential shortages or disruptions and helping to mitigate such impacts, as necessary to protect the health of Americans. Every action the FDA has taken during this public health emergency to address the COVID-19 pandemic has balanced the urgent need to make tests available with the most appropriate level of oversight that ensures accurate tests are being deployed. As of May 20, FDA has granted more than 104 emergency use authorizations, which include the first antigen test, 91 molecular tests, and 12 antibody tests. Importantly, FDA has posted a list of antibody tests that are being removed from the “notification list” of tests being offered under the Policy for Coronavirus Disease-2019 Tests During the Public Health Emergency. More here.

U.S. Department of the Treasury (DT)

·         Treasury Begins Distribution of Coronavirus Relief Fund Dollars to Native American Tribes: The President signed the CARES Act into law, providing $8 billion to address coronavirus preparedness, response, and recovery for American Indians and Alaska Natives. On May 5, Treasury and the U.S. Department of the Interior announced initial allocations of this funding, totaling nearly $5 billion, which represents one of the largest programmatic investments in Indian County in our Nation’s history.

·         Treasury Updates Guidance and FAQ’s for States, Tribes, and Local Governments: On May 4, Treasury released an updated list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the distribution and use of Coronavirus Relief Fund funds. Among other updates, Treasury provides that “as a matter of administrative convenience in light of the emergency nature of this program, a State, territorial, local, or Tribal government may presume that payroll costs for public health and public safety employees are payments for services substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the CVOID-19 public health emergency.” The updated FAQ’s can be found here. More information on the Coronavirus Relief Fund can be found here.

·         Treasury Updates Guidance and FAQ’s for Economic Impact Payments: Millions of Americans have already received their Economic Impact Payments authorized by the CARES Act. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) continues to calculate and automatically send the Payments to most eligible individuals, however some may have to provide additional information to the IRS to get their Payments. More information here.

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

·         SBA Continues to Deliver Unprecedented Relief to the Nation’s Small Businesses: Through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) authorized under the CARES Act, the SBA is delivering unprecedented relief to the Nation’s Small Businesses. In the first round of funding alone, the agency processed more than 14 years’ worth of loans in less than 14 days. With an additional $310 billion in authorized funding, SBA continues to authorize PPP loans. In Round II, 5,425 lenders have approved over 2.4 million loans averaging $74,304 per loan. More here. A list of frequently asked questions can be found here. Additional questions should be referred to local and regional offices (here).

·         Treasury and SBA Release New Information Regarding the Paycheck Protection Program:

·         SBA Announces Reopening of Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program and Makes Available to U.S. Agricultural Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic: On May 4, SBA announced the reopening of the EIDL program and EIDL Advance programs and expanded eligibility to agricultural businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. More here. More on SBA coronavirus relief options, including EIDL, here.

About Rep. Steven Smith

Steven Smith is a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, serving his fifth term. Rep. Smith currently represents Acworth, Charlestown, Goshen, Langdon, Lempster, and Washington. Rep. Smith is the Chairman of the Sullivan County Delegation.
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