Keep up to date with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld's COVID-19 Resource Centre

Trump Administration  – President Donald Trump and his senior economic advisers are considering several additional measures to address the economic impact of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) after signing an $8 billion emergency funding bill. Additional policy proposals include:

  • Tax relief measures for affected industries –  Provide targeted tax relief measures for affected industries, including cruise, travel and airline industries, through tax credits, tax deferrals or cash disbursements.
  • Payroll tax cut –  Trump has indicated that he would propose a possible temporary tax cut for hourly employees unable to work.
  • Paid sick leave –  The Office of Personnel Management instructed federal agencies to ensure they have telework policies in place for eligible employees. Trump has also considered proposals for short-term paid sick leave to help workers unable to work due to the virus.
  • Loans for small businesses –  The Small Business Administration has the ability to issue approximately $7 billion in disaster loans to help small businesses, which could include eliminating loan fees.
  • Government-backed relief –  Provide government funds to specific geographic regions in the country hit hard by the outbreak.
  • Tariff exemptions –  Grant tariff exemptions for facemasks and other medical products from China. According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the administration is not considering broader tariff relief, but it is on a list of potential options for the White House.
  • Infrastructure –  Secretary Mnuchin discussed implementing a major infrastructure bill during a hearing on March 3 before the House Ways & Means Committee, calling it the “soundest way” to create economic stimulus, which drew support from the Committee’s Chairman Richie Neal (D-MA).

House and Senate Democrats  – Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on the administration to prioritize the following as outlined in Speaker Pelosi's Dear Colleague letter:

  • Paid sick leave— Provide paid sick leave to alleviate the devastating consequences of lost wages for workers impacted by quarantine orders or responsible for caring for children impacted by school closures.
    • Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced separate emergency paid sick leave measures (H.R. 6150 and S. 3415) that would:
      • Require all employers to allow workers to gradually earn seven days of paid sick leave
      • Require all employers to provide an additional 14 days of paid sick leave, available immediately at the beginning of a public health emergency, including the current coronavirus crisis
      • Ensure paid sick leave covers days when your child’s school is closed due to a public health emergency, when your employer is closed due to public health emergency, or if you or a family member is quarantined or isolated due to a public health emergency
    • The House Education and Labor Committee has scheduled a hearing on March 11 to consider a bill (H.R. 1784) that would require businesses with 15 or more employees to allow workers to accrue as much as 56 hours, or seven days, of paid sick leave annually.
  • Enhanced Unemployment Insurance— Ensure unemployment insurance benefits are available and sufficient for workers who may lose their jobs from the economic impacts of the epidemic.
  • Food security— Expand Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), in order to ensure vulnerable populations do not lose access to food during this epidemic.
  • Clear protections for frontline workers— Maintain clear standards and sufficient distribution of necessary protective equipment for health care and other workers who are in contact with people who have been exposed or are suffering from the virus as well as the people responsible for cleaning buildings and public facilities.
  • Widespread and free coronavirus testing— Ensure that all who need an evaluation are able to access locations for cost-free testing and rapidly increase the unacceptably low daily test processing capacity inside the U.S.
  • Affordable treatment for all— Reimburse patients for any non-covered coronavirus-related costs, or else the epidemic will be worsened because families will fear they cannot afford the costs associated with treatment.
  • Anti-price gouging protections— Ensure that hard-working families are protected from price gouging of medical and non-medical essentials during this emergency.
  • Increase capacity of medical system— Use our emergency response mechanisms to mobilize resources and facilities in order to respond to surges in demand.
  • Tax relief– House Democrats have expressed interest in making the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) more refundable.

House and Senate Republicans  – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) reportedly noted that, “everything is on the table” and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) mentioned that he would welcome a stimulus package, pointing to an infrastructure spending bill that would attract bipartisan support. Several Republican lawmakers appear reluctant to implement a stimulus package, arguing that it is too early, according to various reports.

  • Tax relief measures for affected industries –  Provide targeted tax relief measures for affected industries, including cruise, travel and airline industries, through tax credits, tax deferrals or cash disbursements.
  • Short-term expansion of paid sick leave –  Congressional tax aides are arguing that implementing a short-term expansion of paid sick leave would be more effective than a temporary cut to payroll taxes and cost less.
  • Temporary suspension of tariffs– Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) has reportedly proposed temporary suspension of tariffs to help stabilize markets.

Financial Regulators –  Regulating agencies may consider additional measures to mitigate trading panics, ease liquidity for banks and encourage lenders to provide relief to consumers who fall behind on their mortgage payments. Trump has stated that he wants “more easing and cutting” from the U.S. central bank.

  • Interest rates– The Federal Reserve announced that it would reduce its benchmark interest rates by a half percentage point to stimulate the economy.
  • Assistance for publicly traded companies– The Securities and Exchange Commission extended the filing period to file certain financial reports due from March 1 through April 30 by 45 days for publicly traded companies.