The following provides an update on events that are unfolding related to COVID-19.
Federal Legislation Situation
The Senate is currently preparing to debate the second emergency spending package, H.R. 6201. Earlier, the House approved a technical corrections package to the bill that made a host of changes some of which seem to have constrained family leave and sick leave assistance. The changes may include a requirement that accrued leave (sick and vacation) are part of the total paid leave provided by the federal legislation. Efforts are underway to clarify this matter. Passage of H.R. 6201 may be delayed in the Senate, as efforts to develop a third spending bill and attach it to H.R. 6201 to expedite passage are being considered.
Any third spending package is expected to be at least $1 trillion. Among the focus areas may be:
- Further enhanced unemployment assistance
- Tax cuts and tax holidays
- Direct federal checks to Americans to help put money in their hands
- Increased funding for community health needs and related medical professional needs
- Homelessness/drug addiction needs
In addition to these basic demands, efforts are expected to be made to address a number of other matters:
- Restore the ability of local and state governments to rely on advanced refunding of debt to take advantage of lower interest rates
- Clarify what could be eligible for federal disaster assistance under the Stafford Act (FEMA), since FEMA has traditionally supported natural disasters
- Seek a relaxation of pension rules to allow retired workers to return to jobs without penalties invoked on pension
- Seek tax credits for public sector employers that pay into Social Security and FICA (similar to that provided in the second spending bill)
- Seek increased funding of health workers’ protective gear
- Increase funding for food and nutrition needs
During a NACO briefing this afternoon, it was noted that there has been a sharp increase in hacking attempts to government websites. This included a cyber attack on the U.S. Health and Human Services twitter account that was successful in transmitting disinformation about the coronavirus. This serves as a reminder to be vigilant as to the source of emails and communications to protect the integrity of your computer systems.
Additional information and resources on the federal and local government response to the Covid-19 pandemic can be found at:
CDC – Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
DHS News & Updates (Homeland Security)