Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress.
This week Treasury Secretary Mnuchin publicly stated his support for another COVID-19 stimulus bill, particularly one that provides additional support for small businesses and industries struggling to reopen; however, there is no clarity on timing of the bill. The Senate is not expected to consider a fourth stimulus bill before the July 4 recess.
The Senate is expected to consider a smaller stimulus bill than the House’s bill, suggesting the bill amount will be closer to $1 trillion. The Senate bill will focus on small business support, and a possible “back-to-work” supplemental. Some Senators continue to ask legislators to wait and see how previous stimulus support will play-out before allocating any additional resources.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to begin considering Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) bills the week of June 22. It is still unclear what allocation amounts each of the 12 subcommittees will be marking-up to.
In response to COVID-19, the Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee Chair DeLauro may consider using emergency designations for programs within the CDC, NIH and other health agencies which would exempt them from the budget caps. Senate LHHS Appropriations Chairman Blunt is not in support of emergency designations.
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Alexander released a white paper that addresses lessons learned from COVID-19 and past pandemics. The paper lays out recommendations for addressing COVID-19 and the next health crisis. Recommendations include testing, treatment, and vaccines as well as how to track emerging infectious diseases. The paper is intended to illicit policy recommendations from the HELP Committee.
On Monday, June 8, House Democrats unveiled the Justice in Policing Act of 2020. The bill development was led by the Congressional Black Caucus and is intended to be a blueprint for reforming policing policies. The bill includes measures around increasing law enforcement transparency and accountability. The measures are intended to:
• lower the criminal intent standard—from willful to knowing or reckless—to convict a law enforcement officer for misconduct in a federal prosecution,
• limit qualified immunity as a defense to liability in a private civil action against a law enforcement officer or state correctional officer, and
• authorize the Department of Justice to issue subpoenas in investigations of police departments for a pattern or practice of discrimination.
• create a national registry—the National Police Misconduct Registry—to compile data on complaints and records of police misconduct
The House Judiciary Committee will hold markups on the bill next week.