Policy Papers

July 6, 2020

COVID-19 Vaccine Development

KEY TAKEAWAYS The National Institutes of Health, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, pharmaceutical companies, and other federal agencies are working to expedite the safe and effective development of a vaccine for COVID-19. The Trump administration created Operation Warp Speed, with a goal of distributing hundreds of millions of vaccine doses to Americans by 2021. As vaccines are developed, the Food and Drug Administration has several ways to safely expedite the approval... Continue Reading

July 2, 2020

June 2020 Jobs Report

Unemployment Rate: 11.1 percent Jobs Created: 4.8 million Employment and Unemployment           The Department of Labor bases monthly jobs reports on a survey of businesses and a survey of households. The survey data relate to the pay period or calendar week containing the 12th day of the month. The report generally will not reflect labor market changes near the end of the month. By mid-June, nearly all states had ended their stay-at-home... Continue Reading

July 1, 2020

How COVID-19 is Affecting Transportation

KEY TAKEAWAYS Travel in the U.S. collapsed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Commercial transport also has declined, though less dramatically than passenger travel. The transportation industry is attempting to adapt by putting new safety measures in place that address public health and safety concerns. Travel in the U.S. fell sharply and quickly, amid COVID-19 travel warnings and state orders telling people to stay home. One survey found nearly half of Americans had canceled travel... Continue Reading

July 1, 2020

State of the U.S. Postal Service

KEY TAKEAWAYS The postal system is provided for in the Constitution, and has been a fundamental part of American life for more than 200 years. The U.S. Postal Service has incurred losses each year since 2007 – a total of $78 billion – including a loss of almost $9 billion in 2019. In the long term, COVID-19 may do significant economic harm to the Postal Service; in the short term, an increase in package deliveries has boosted USPS’ financial situation. The postal system has... Continue Reading

June 26, 2020

Agency Resources for Coronavirus Response

KEY TAKEAWAYS The federal government continues to respond to the coronavirus national emergency. Congress has passed, and President Trump has signed, legislation to provide funding and other resources to help fight the spread of the coronavirus. The administration is working to implement these new laws and has been releasing guidance and resources to get help to Americans as quickly as possible. This document will be updated as further resources are released.   Keeping Workers... Continue Reading

June 26, 2020

CARES Act Committee Resources

KEY TAKEAWAYS On March 27, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which includes provisions to aid the economy and ensures additional support is available to health care providers. The relevant Senate committees have provided summaries, section-by-sections, FAQs, and other documents to help explain the important legislation. This document will be updated as additional committee resources are released. Small Business Committee Paycheck... Continue Reading

June 26, 2020

COVID-19 Provider Relief Fund

KEY TAKEAWAYS The CARES Act provided $100 billion to help America’s health care system respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Congress added another $75 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. HHS is distributing this money through the provider relief fund to hospitals and other health care providers. Funds have been allocated to physicians and hospitals that take Medicare patients, certain Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program providers,... Continue Reading

June 24, 2020

Judicial Confirmations Update

KEY TAKEAWAYS The Senate’s confirmation this week of Cory Wilson to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals marks President Trump’s 200th Article III judicial appointee. President Trump has now appointed 143 district court judges, 53 circuit judges, two Supreme Court justices, and two judges for the U.S. Court of International Trade. The pace of judicial confirmations during this presidency is the fastest since the Carter administration. The Senate has worked diligently to cement... Continue Reading

June 17, 2020

Paycheck Protection Program is Helping Small Businesses

KEY TAKEAWAYS Lenders and the Small Business Administration have approved more than 4.6 million Paycheck Protection Program loans totaling $513 billion. The average loan size is about $111,000. The program is helping businesses across the country keep their workers employed as they absorb the economic shock from the COVID-19 emergency. A new law President Trump signed on June 5 gives businesses more time to spend their loan and flexibility to spend more of it on non-payroll costs, to fit their... Continue Reading

June 16, 2020

Coronavirus and the Oil Industry

KEY TAKEAWAYS As people stopped commuting to work and taking leisure trips due to concerns about spreading the coronavirus, gasoline consumption plummeted. The decline in worldwide economic activity has dramatically reduced oil demand and oil prices, leading to oil production cuts around the world. When—and where—the industry recovers remains to be seen. Colossal changes in consumer behavior, driven by the coronavirus, have upended the global oil industry. By the end of March,... Continue Reading

June 15, 2020

The Senate is Hard at Work, Aided by Remote Hearings

KEY TAKEAWAYS The Senate has moved quickly to implement procedures and technology that enable committees to continue their important work while ensuring that senators, staff, and witnesses are safe. During the month of May, 12 Senate committees held 30 hearings and business meetings. Seventeen of those involved some or all senators and witnesses participating remotely. The committees met to conduct oversight of coronavirus response efforts; advance COVID-19 related legislation; consider... Continue Reading

June 5, 2020

Social Media Struggles with Coronavirus Misinformation

KEY TAKEAWAYS Social media has transformed American life and business as an open forum for people to share news and other information with little or no filter. During the coronavirus pandemic, misleading or harmful coronavirus information has circulated on social media platforms, including bogus treatments and cures, conspiracy theories about the origins of the virus, and inaccurate information on testing facilities. Social media companies have taken steps to fight the misleading or harmful... Continue Reading

June 5, 2020

COVID-19 Testing Efforts

KEY TAKEAWAYS The Trump administration and Congress have been working to increase coronavirus testing, both diagnostic and antibody testing, to give Americans the confidence to return to work and school. Congress passed legislation to increase testing capabilities, including an initiative at the NIH to identify new technologies that can increase diagnostic testing. More than 18 million coronavirus tests have been administered in the United States to detect the virus, and the federal government... Continue Reading

June 5, 2020

May 2020 Jobs Report

Unemployment Rate: 13.3 percent Jobs Created: 2.5 million Employment and Unemployment           The Department of Labor bases monthly jobs reports on a survey of businesses and a survey of households. The survey data relate to the pay period or calendar week containing the 12th day of the month. The report generally will not reflect labor market changes near the end of the month. By mid-May, more than half of states were letting certain... Continue Reading

June 5, 2020

Helping Unemployed Americans

KEY TAKEAWAYS Business closures and reduced economic activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic have left millions of Americans out of work. In the CARES Act, Congress temporarily made more types of workers eligible for unemployment insurance and added an extra $600 per week for recipients through July, on top of state benefits. With states reopening, Congress will have to decide the best federal approach to encourage millions of people to return to work and assist those who cannot do so... Continue Reading

June 2, 2020

Coronavirus Relief for State, Local, and Tribal Governments

KEY TAKEAWAYS The CARES Act included a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund to help state, local, territory, and tribal governments pay for unanticipated expenses related to COVID-19. Governments may use the funds for costs ranging from COVID-19 testing and contact tracing to payroll for public health and safety workers, though not to make up for revenue shortfalls. States are taking different approaches to spending their share of the funds.  In the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic... Continue Reading

May 19, 2020

Democrats' $3 Trillion "Parade of Absurdities"

KEY TAKEAWAYS On May 12, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a 1,815 page partisan wish list that would cost taxpayers more than $3 trillion. The bill includes hundreds of millions in wasteful spending and does nothing to encourage long-term economic recovery. It would take power away from the states and make permanent changes to the American election process.  On May 12, House Democrats introduced the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act. Just three days later,... Continue Reading

May 18, 2020

How the Coronavirus is Affecting Agriculture

KEY TAKEAWAYS While America’s food supply remains generally strong, logistical bottlenecks have interrupted supplies of commodities like pork and poultry. President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to require meatpacking plants to continue operating. If coronavirus-driven changes in consumer demand continue, agriculture around the world will go through a difficult transition to alter production. Throughout the coronavirus crisis, the American agricultural system has produced a... Continue Reading

May 15, 2020

Modernizing Government Information Technology

KEY TAKEAWAYS Outdated “legacy” IT systems have hindered government response to the coronavirus pandemic at the federal, state, and local level. In addition to working slowly and crashing frequently, these obsolete systems present significant cybersecurity and privacy risks. Congress has conducted oversight and passed legislation to address the issue of outdated government technology, and President Trump has made modernizing technology a top priority of his administration. As... Continue Reading

May 14, 2020

Supporting Telehealth During the COVID-19 Pandemic

KEY TAKEAWAYS Telehealth is playing a central role in the delivery of health care services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Trump administration has taken steps to loosen regulations and has encouraged states to do the same, allowing telehealth to serve more patients and help mitigate the spread of the virus. Congress included provisions to expand telehealth in the CARES Act, including funding to help health care providers with broadband connectivity and telehealth devices, and supporting... Continue Reading

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