Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress
With members of the Senate Appropriations Committee still working to agree on FY21 funding, it is unlikely that Senate markups will take place prior to elections in November.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to release a handful of bills related to COVID-19 soon. These bills are expected to include aid to schools and hospitals, another round of stimulus checks, extended unemployment assistance, and tax incentives for employers. Aid is estimated to total approximately $1 trillion, in contrast with the House’s $3.5 trillion proposal.
Senate Republicans disagree with the Trump Administration opposition to allocating additional funds to the CDC for testing and contact tracing. Facing opposition from both Senate Democrats and Republicans, the Administration’s demand for a payroll tax cut is not expected to be included in the bills.
On Tuesday, the Department of Health and Human Services released a new database for COVID-19 hospitalizations. According to HHS, this new database provides a more complete perspective of the pandemic than the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network, where data was previously located. HHS officials also claim that the website will rely on the same predictive models used by the CDC to analyze raw data collected from hospitals and that some raw data will be available to the public. In a press release last week, NCSD Executive Director, David Harvey, noted concern that “this move by the Administration will threaten the quality of data needed to respond quickly and accurately to the pandemic.”
This comes as new reports claims that the number of COVID-19 cases in the US have been underreported. According to CDC data, case numbers could be up to 24 times higher than previously reported.