Leaders of Small Business Committee Reach Consensus on Bill to Extend PPP Loan Deadline, Senate Fails to Clear Measure by Unanimous Consent as Phase 4 Negotiations Likely to Dominate June
Bipartisan leaders of the Senate Small Business Committee yesterday reached agreement on legislation to double the period of time in which small businesses can use Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from eight weeks to 16 weeks. The measure, dubbed the Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act, would also extend the deadline for applying for the loans until December 31. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Small Business Committee, pushed for the Senate to pass the legislation by unanimous consent on Thursday before the chamber left for the Memorial Day recess. However, under this approach, the request is rejected if any one senator objects, and the chamber was ultimately unable to reach consensus before adjourning.
The issue of PPP reform has also begun to gain traction in the House and, during a news conference on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) indicated that the chamber will vote next week on a separate PPP measure. In a press release on May 15, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) revealed that the Speaker had promised a vote on his legislation with Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX)—the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (H.R. 6886). The House also plans to vote on another bill introduced by Rep. Phillips requiring the Small Business Administration to disclose recipients of grants and loans funded under Coronavirus relief legislation. However, any technical changes to the PPP program will likely need to wait until the Senate returns on June 1.
Meanwhile, House Democrats have successfully pushed Phase 4 stimulus legislation, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800) through the chamber. Republican leaders in the Senate have characterized the bill as "dead on arrival," and President Trump has vowed to veto the measure, should it reach his desk. Further, the White House has issued a formal statement opposing H.R. 6800. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated on Tuesday that the Senate will pump the brakes on additional COVID-19 relief and wait a couple of weeks to plot a way forward, leaving Phase 4 on hold heading into the holiday weekend. Discussions on Phase 4 are expected to dominate the House and Senate proceedings during the month of June.
As public officials at all levels of government continue to escalate their responses to the pandemic, the latest actions and developments may be found below. Akin Gump will continue to provide policy updates on developments related to COVID-19.
President Trump Signs Executive Order on Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery
On Tuesday, May 19, President Trump signed an executive order aimed at helping businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The order instructs agencies to address this economic emergency by rescinding, modifying, waiving or providing exemptions from regulations and other requirements that may inhibit economic recovery. The order further directs the heads of all agencies to review regulatory flexibilities that they have implemented in response to COVID-19 to determine which, if any, would promote economic recovery if made permanent.
CDC Releases Guidance on the President's Plan for Reopening America
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a 60-page document summarizing its initiatives, activities and tools in support of the whole-of-government response to COVID-19. The document includes guidance for reopening childcare centers, schools, businesses, restaurants and public transit, including a recommendation for mass transit to add floor decals to ensure that passengers remain six feet apart. The guidance also details plans for containing COVID-19 at the federal and state level through contact tracing efforts.
Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Extend PPP Loan Deadline
On Wednesday, May 13, Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Paycheck Protection Program Deadline Extension Adjustment for Loans (DEAL) Act. The PPP DEAL Act would extend the loan forgiveness period from eight to 16 weeks and amend the rehire date from June 30 to 16 weeks after the PPP loan is awarded.
More States Take First Steps to Reopen; Others Announce Extensions of Emergency Measures
A number of states have announced initials steps to reopen their economies in response to the three-phase guidelines issued by the Administration on April 16. In addition to the following recent state actions, a complete list of state reopenings may be found at this link.
- Arizona: Arizona's stay-at-home order expired on May 15. Gov. Doug Ducey signed an executive order on May 12, implementing the state's "Stay Healthy, Return Smarter, Return Stronger" plan on May 16. Under the new order, businesses were to encouraged to telework, schools would remain closed and in-person visits to nursing homes would remain banned. Arizona businesses were allowed to reopen beginning on May 8 with social distancing regulations in place.
- Connecticut: Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order on May 18 allowing the state to begin reopening on May 20. Phase 1 of the state's reopening includes outdoor dining to be permitted at restaurants, offices shall be permitted to open pursuant to the Sector Rules for Offices, large shopping malls and retail establishments shall be permitted to operate, and the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development may add any other businesses that may reopen. Some outdoor activities are permitted and zoos and museums are allowed to reopen with social distancing regulations. Phase 2 of the reopening plan is currently set to go into effect on June 20.
- Florida: Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order on May 14 to further reopen the state. Effective May 18, restaurants and food establishments may serve patrons in indoor seating limited to 50 percent of their seating capacity, in-store retail sales establishments may operate up to 50 percent of their building occupancy, gyms and fitness centers may operate up to 50 percent of their building occupancy, professional sports venues may host training, competitions, events and games, and amusement parks may submit a reopening plan. All businesses reopening must adhere to additional safety guidelines. Additionally, Gov. DeSantis signed an executive order on May 9 allowing barbershops, cosmetology salons and cosmetology specialty salons to begin reopening.
- Hawaii: Gov. David Ige signed his eighth emergency proclamation during the pandemic, extending the disaster emergency relief period for the state until June 30. The proclamation also includes extending the 14-day mandatory quarantine for travelers, an eviction moratorium preventing evictions from residential dwellings and a reopening plan to allow businesses to begin reopening in June. "Medium-risk" businesses, including salons and barbers, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, houses of worship and museums will be the first to reopen with social distancing guidelines.
- Iowa: Gov. Kimberly Reynolds signed an updated emergency proclamation on May 13 allowing businesses to begin reopening. Effective May 15, restaurants, fitness centers, gyms, malls and other retail establishments, salons, barber shops and other businesses listed may reopen provided they comply with the requirements outlined in the proclamation. The order extends reopening regulations to all counties in Iowa. Gov. Reynolds also announced that, effective Friday, movie theaters, zoos, museums, aquariums, auctions and wedding reception venues will reopen with some restrictions. On May 28, bars will be permitted to open at 50 percent capacity and beginning June 1, schools will be able to resume school-sponsored activities and learning.
- Kansas: Gov. Laura Kelly signed an executive order on May 19 implementing Phase 2 of the state's reopening plan. Effective May 22, all businesses except bars and night clubs may reopen if they comply with the requirements outlined in the order. Nail salons, barber shops and other personal service businesses may open only for pre-scheduled appointments or online check-ins; fitness centers and health clubs may open subject to restrictions; and state-owned casinos may open if they comply with a reopening plan approved by the Department of Health and Environment. Outdoor and indoor large entertainment venues, fairs, festivals, swimming pools and summer camps must still remain closed.
- Louisiana: Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an executive proclamation on May 14 implementing Phase 1 of the state's reopening plan. Effective May 15, restaurants, beauty shops, barber shops, shopping malls, churches, casinos, racetracks, gyms, fitness centers and other businesses not explicitly listed as being prohibited from reopening may reopen. All businesses that reopen are required to adhere to the guidelines outlined in the order. Gov. Edwards stated that if Phase 1 does not see a spike in cases, Phase 2 could begin as early as June 5.
- Maryland: Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order on May 13 lifting the stay-at-home order and moving the state to a safer-at-home initiative. Effective May 15, religious facilities, retail establishments, manufacturing businesses and facilities, and certain personal services businesses began to reopen with social distancing guidelines. Outdoor recreation establishments were allowed to reopen provided they adhere to the operating requirements listed in the order.
- Michigan: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order on May 21 easing the restrictions on businesses and social gatherings in the state. Gov. Whitmer announced non-essential dental services and veterinarian services may reopen, but by appointment only. Retail businesses and auto dealerships may reopen Tuesday, May 26. Lifted requirements that health care providers must delay certain non-essential medical, dental and veterinary procedures statewide goes into effect Friday, May 29. The governor said gatherings of 10 or fewer people may also resume, effective immediately, as long as people continue to practice social distancing. Gov. Whitmer had signed a previous order allowing "critical infrastructure workers" to resume working and expanded the order to retail stores, laundromats, hotels and construction sites.
- Minnesota: Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order on May 13 that rescinded the previous order and implemented a deadline of June 1 for the Minnesota Commissioners of Health, Employment and Economic Development to develop a phased plan to achieve a safe reopening of bars, restaurants and other places of public accommodation. Under the plan, restaurants will be able to host outdoor dining starting June 1, provided that social distancing is enforced. No more than 50 patrons may be seated at a time, tables must have at least 6 feet between them and parties are limited to four (or six, if everyone is in the same family). Salons will also be able to open at the start of June, given that they reduce capacity to 25 percent and have staff wear personal protective equipment. Gyms and fitness centers will remain closed, and gatherings are limited to groups of 10.
- Oregon: Gov. Kate Brown signed an executive order on May 14, allowing that a retail business not subject to paragraph 5(a) of the executive order may operate if the business complies with applicable OHA guidance beginning May 15. The order also outlines the plan for a phased reopening of Oregon.
- South Carolina: Gov. Henry McMaster signed an executive order on May 15 to further reopen the state. Effective May 18, recreational and athletic facilities such as gyms, fitness centers and spas may reopen. Effective May 18, close-contact service providers such as barber shops, hair salons, nail salons and massage-therapy establishments may reopen. Any business that elects to reopen must incorporate any corresponding industry guidelines promulgated by the CDC, DHEC or any other state or federal public health officials. Gov. McMaster also announced on May 20 that limited amusements such as zoos, museums, aquarium and others may open before the Memorial Day holiday.
President Trump Delivers Remarks on Supporting the Nation's Farmers, Ranchers and Food Supply Chain
On Tuesday, May 19, President Trump delivered remarks on supporting the nation's farmers, ranchers and food supply chain. Highlights of the discussion included:
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue, Ivanka Trump, American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, National Cattleman's Beef Association President Marty Smith and several small farm producers praised President Trump's commitment to American agriculture. They discussed the positive impact that the upcoming Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), as well as the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, will have on all farm operations.
- CFAP will provide $19 billion to support agricultural producers, maintain the health of critical food supply chains and provide food assistance for American families,
- President Trump announced $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers to compensate them for losses related to the pandemic. These payments will provide billions for corn, cotton, soybean, specialty crop farmers, cattle ranches, dairy producers, pork producers and more.
- President Trump suggested terminating trade deals in which the United States imports cattle from other countries, asserting that the United States should look at terminating cattle deals with other nations unless they are a "strong ally," as there is ample cattle supply in the country already.
- CFAP sign-ups will begin on May 26 and payments will start being issued within one week of receiving an application.
- The Farmers to Families Food Box Program officially launched on Friday. USDA will work with local food distribution companies to purchase $3 billion in food products from American farmers and deliver them to food banks.
- Reporters asked if any of this aid will be directed towards cattleman, chicken farmers and pork producers who already had to euthanize their flocks because of the pandemic. Secretary Perdue noted that this particular payment is not for that circumstance, but there will be aid coming for those producers. Guidance will be announced as soon as the proper data is collected.
- President Trump was asked if he plans to extend the ban on nonessential trade across the U.S.-Canada border. President Trump stated that he plans to extend the ban for now, but is communicating with Prime Minister Trudeau and will address the issue as pandemic circumstances begin to improve.
- Phase 3: Congressional Oversight Commission Publishes Initial Report
- Phase 3: Treasury Interim Final Rule on Loan Increases
- Phase 3: Treasury Interim Final Rule on Treatment of Entities with Foreign Affiliates
- Phase 3: Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application Form
- Phase 3: Updated Paycheck Protection Program Frequently Asked Questions
- Phase 3: HHS Updated Provider Relief Fund Frequently Asked Questions
- Phase 4: Statement of Administration Policy: Administration Opposes H.R. 6800
- Senate: Young, Bennet Introduce RESTART Act to Support Hardest-Hit Small and Mid-Sized Businesses
- House: Leader Hoyer: Legislating in the House of Representatives During Coronavirus: Questions & Answers on Remote Voting & Virtual Committee Proceedings
- House: Burgess Calls on Eshoo to Hold Hearing on Distribution of Provider Relief Fund
- HHS: Providers Must Act by June 3, 2020 to Receive Additional Relief Fund General Distribution Payment
- HHS: HHS, Industry Partners Expand U.S.-Based Pharmaceutical Manufacturing for COVID-19 Response
- CMS: Nursing Home Reopening Recommendations for State and Local Officials
- GAO: Report on Social Distancing During Pandemics
- States: Updated Contact Information for FEMA Regional Offices
- States: The Wall Street Journal Guide to State Lockdowns
- States: National Governors Association (NGA) COVID-19 Resources
- States: Stateside Associates: New Executive, Legislative And Regulatory Actions Issued By State/Local Governments
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