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Coronavirus Strikes Back, Infrastructure Bill Passes House

Thursday, July 2, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: TCAA Staff
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Coronavirus has dominated the news, as many states' infection and death rates have gone from bad to worse. House Democrats' infrastructure improvement package and the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) were the talk of the town in Washington, and election results in states such as Colorado, Kentucky, and Oklahoma also pointed to some interesting trends. Here's what you may have missed this week:  


Infrastructure: Yesterday, House Democrats passed H.R. 2, or the INVEST Act. This $1.5 billion authorization includes nearly $500 million for surface transportation. The bill passed on near-party lines, with only five defections between both parties. While Senate Republicans likely won't take the bill up at all, and with the President threatening a veto if it makes it to his desk, it more than anything signals House Democrats' opening salvo in infrastructure reform. Read the full WSW memo here.  


Coronavirus: The United States reported 52,789 new Coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the largest single-day total since the start of the pandemic. Across the country, several states have walked back some reopening measures, including Michigan, California, Texas, Florida, and New Jersey. While today's jobs report showed a lower unemployment rate than last month, Department of Labor data showed that 1.4 million people filed unemployment claims for the first time last week, marking the 15th straight week of claims that exceeded one million. Both Republican and Democratic legislative leaders have called for wearing masks in recent days, and last night, the President, for the first time, joined them. 


National Defense Authorization Act Markup: This week, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) completed its markup of the NDAA, approving it unanimously. The $741 billion measure includes provisions such as removing Confederate names from bases, barring Confederate flags from being displayed on military property, efforts to stymie the Trump administration's plans to pull American troops from Germany, and placed limits on the reduction of troops from Afghanistan, among others. The President has insisted he'll veto the bill if it removes the names of Confederate leaders from bases, despite the provision's bipartisan popularity. 


Other Highlights from Washington: On Wednesday, the U.S. - Mexico - Canada Agreement (USMCA) took effect to great fanfare across the continent, though questions on labor and the environment, among other provisions, remain. The House also unanimously passed a bill on Wednesday to extend the deadline to apply for Paycheck Protection Program loans from June 30 to August 8. The bill is expected to be signed by the President.  Finally, the appropriations season kicks off next week, with House subcommittees holding markups. The full schedule can be found in last week's News and Notes here


Political Updates: Both of Senate Democrats' preferred candidates were announced the winners of their primaries in Colorado and Kentucky this past week, holding off challenges from their leftward flanks. Meanwhile, Oklahoma voters narrowly approved Medicaid expansion, expanding health insurance for upwards of 200,000 people. 


Though his race has yet to be called, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel is down in his primary to a young, progressive challenger in the mold of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. On the other side of the aisle, a member of Congress from Colorado, Rep. Scott Tipton, lost to a challenger from his right. Finally, the President's polling continues to flounder, both nationally and in swing states, and Joe Biden and the DNC out-raised President Trump and the RNC for the second straight month.

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