03/25/2020 – Daily update from NAW Government Relations Team
1-Senate Reaches Deal on Second COVID-19 Emergency Stimulus Bill
As everyone knows, The White House and Senate very early this morning (1:30 AM) announced that they had reached a bi-partisan agreement on a rescue package. While it is expected that a Senate vote on this measure will occur this afternoon, we know little more certain than that at this time.
While lots of reports circulated this morning on provisions in the bill, including lots of additional funding for social network support, no details are known for certain. The final text of the legislation has not been released and is reportedly still being reviewed by relevant Senate Committees.
When he opened the Senate at noon today, Senator McConnell assured listeners that the Senate will act on this legislation today but offered no certainty about when the actual legislation will be released or when that vote will occur. It is expected that the Senate will pass the bill by a wide margin.
Once the Senate has passed the bill, it must go to the House of Representatives, where the outcome is less certain. Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced this morning that she was reviewing the legislation but made no commitment to support it. As a practical matter it is hard to imagine the House not passing it, but they have an unprecedented logistical challenge. The House is not in session so Representatives are not in Washington. There is no procedure allowed under House rules for Members to vote from remote locations or by proxy. Given that, the Speaker and her Leadership team must either call the House back into session asking its 435 members to return to Washington to vote with no certainty that a quorum would do so; or get agreement from the Members to pass the legislation by “unanimous consent” so that Members do not need to return.
We do not yet have any indication of the Speaker’s plans, and it’s noteworthy that “unanimous consent” means precisely that. We have heard that the Democratic leadership is in the process of calling each of the 435 Members.
We will of course begin reviewing the legislation as soon as we have it and will send a link to you so you can review it or have your team review if you want to. And we’ll keep you posted as Senate and House action takes shape.
2-NAW sends letter to Vice President Pence Encouraging the Use of Established Supply Chains
This week, we started hearing reports from some of our members that the Federal Government has begun bypassing established distribution channels in their attempt to secure needed supplies.
In response, NAW sent a letter to Vice President Pence, who is leading the White House COVID-19 Task Force, urging his team that during this critical time the Federal Government must rely on the efficiencies of those who best know distribution to expedite and assure delivery of critical product.
Click here to read our letter.
3-DOL Publishes Guidance Explaining Paid Sick Leave And Expanded Family and Medical Leave
Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced its first round of published guidance to provide information to employees and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) when it takes effect on April 1, 2020.
FFCRA will help the United States combat and defeat COVID-19 by giving all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members.
The guidance – provided in a Fact Sheet for Employees, a Fact Sheet for Employers and a Questions and Answers document – addresses critical questions, such as how an employer must count the number of their employees to determine coverage; how small businesses can obtain an exemption; how to count hours for part-time employees; and how to calculate the wages employees are entitled to under this law.
WHD provides additional information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act at: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.
For more information about the laws enforced by the WHD, call 866-4US-WAGE, or visit: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd.
Jade West, Chief Government Relations Officer
Blake Adami, Vice President-Government Relations
Seth Waugh, Associate Vice President-Government Relations
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