This week, the focus at the federal level was on the next round of funding for the COVID-19 aid package as well as planning for a return of “normality.”
- In the Senate, agreement could not be reached on $250 billion in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) resulting in the Senate adjourning until Monday 4/13. Both Democrats and Republicans pledged to continue discussions over the weekend as the existing funding for the PPP will run out given the current rate of applications being processed.
- Secretary Mnuchin stated that President Trump is open to discussing additional funding for hospitals and state governments as part of a future stimulus package but stressed the need to urgently provide an additional $251 billion for the PPP.
- The Federal Reserve announced additional actions to provide up to $2.3 trillion in loans to support the economy. These actions include:
- Bolstering the effectiveness of the PPP by supplying liquidity to participating financial institutions through term financing backed by PPP loans to small businesses
- Ensuring credit flows to small and mid-sized businesses with the purchase of up to $600 billion in loans through the Main Street Lending Program
- Increasing the flow of credit to households and businesses through capital markets, by expanding the size and scope of the Primary and Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facilities as well as the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility
- Helping state and local governments manage cash flow stresses caused by the coronavirus pandemic by establishing a Municipal Liquidity Facility that will offer up to $500 billion in lending to states and municipalities.
- The Department of Education announced that $6 billion will be distributed immediately to colleges and universities to provide direct emergency cash grants to college students whose lives and educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. This funding is the first tranche of $31 billion provided by the CARES Act.
- President Trump announced his plans to form a second Coronavirus Task Force focusing on economic recovery that would work side-by-side with the existing Coronavirus Task Force led by Vice President Pence.
- Vice President Pence reportedly told House members that the Trump administration is exploring ways to return to “normality” and could soon unveil guidance for eventually reopening the country.
- CDC Director Robert Redfield announced new guidance allowing health workers and other essential employees who have been exposed to the coronavirus to go back to work instead of quarantining for 14 days.
- In an interview on CNBC, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the U.S. economy could reopen in May. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell stressed the need to “avoid a false start where we will partially reopen and that results in a spike in coronavirus cases, and then we have to go back again to square one.”
State of Iowa COVID-19
The Iowa Legislative Council met by conference call on Thursday afternoon to approve the extension of adjournment through April 30 (authorized by Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 102). This legislative action aligns with the sixth Emergency Disaster Proclamation that was issued by Governor Reynolds on Thursday, April 2, ordering the closure of schools and extending her previous closure orders until April 30.
“The health and safety of all Iowans is our top priority during this unprecedented situation," House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, said in a statement. "Continuing the pause on session is the right decision at this time but we hope to be back soon to complete our work."
"The Iowa Legislature continues to follow the guidance of the CDC and the Iowa Department of Public Health," said Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny. "It is important for us to continue to lead by example and limit the possible spread of this disease."
The 2020 legislative session was slated for 100-days, from January to mid-April. When the legislature filed SCR102 on March 16 in response to COVID-19, there were around 30 days remaining of the 100-day session. Leadership does not know if the legislature will finish out all 30 days or if the session will be abridged, it will depend on when the general assembly is able to return.
When they do return, state budget will be a top priority. The biggest factors that need to be considered when determining the state budget are:
(1) impact of the CARES Act on the state of Iowa and how those dollars will be used
(2) status of state revenue
Leadership indicated that legislators are still considering policy legislation—policy and priorities will depend on what the timeline looks like when the general assembly is able to return. Both parties recognized that no matter the timeline, the legislature needs to take the time to consider both the health crisis and the economic crisis.
From here, lawmakers can vote to reconvene the session earlier than April 30 or vote to extend the suspension of the legislative session if conditions warrant.
On Monday, April 6, Governor Reynolds issued a seventh State of Public Health Disaster Emergency Declaration that was effective immediately. The declaration provided additional mandatory closures as well as further regulatory relief to Iowans impacted by the COVID-19 public health disaster. The additional closures remain in effect until Thursday, April 30:
- Tobacco or vaping stores
- Toy, gaming, music, instrument, movie, or adult entertainment stores
- Social and fraternal clubs, including those at golf courses
- Bingo halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, arcades, and amusement parks
- Museums, libraries, aquariums, and zoos
- Racetracks and speedways
- Roller- or ice-skating rinks and skate parks
- Outdoor or indoor playgrounds or children’s play centers
Today, the state’s medical director and the Department of Public Health issued a PPE Shortage Order in response to PPE shortages in Iowa, nationally, and globally. The order provides directives to decrease demand of PPE, implement contingency capacity strategies, and implement crisis capacity strategies. It applies to health care providers, hospitals, health care facilities, clinics, local agencies, medical and response organizations, and any other person or facility utilizing PPE in the care or treatment of a patient or resident.
Here is a summary of the Governor’s proclamation. Her actions are authorized by Iowa Code Chapter 29C, Emergency Management and Security.
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