Congress in a COVID-19 World

The House and Senate continue to have differing views on where to apply the most effective support to a nation dealing with COVID-19 in a disaggregated manner. The House passed the three trillion-dollar HEROES Act prior to Memorial Day, only to have the Senate ignore it completely. Leader McConnell referred to the House effort as a Democratic wish list. This week, expect negotiations to continue to fund some solutions. PPP funding flowed quickly, then got tangled up with implementing rules, then almost ran dry, then required replenishment, or else… Spending large amounts of federal money in a short timeframe gets messy.

Speaker Pelosi Wearing a Mask on the Hill

Remember at the start of the COVID-19 crisis when the first number was one trillion, then three trillion? I predicted (way back in March now) we’d get to twenty trillion. The House-passed bill would have gotten us above ten trillion in COVID-19-related funding.  This week, Leader McConnell is signaling the Senate could do something around one trillion. What drives this figure? The election. Sitting Republican Members don’t want to be tied to the gigantic increases in debt during an election year. We may well get to twenty trillion, but that will be well after the election. Look for COVID-19-related add-ons to each piece of legislation from now until the election in November.

    • The Senate will likely precede the House in marking its version of the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) during the month of June.
    • Limited and hybrid (virtual + live) hearings have proven possible, giving Senators and Representatives confidence they can move forward on key pieces of legislation.
    • Limited remote voting will be allowed to assist the legislative process and help minimize required long-distance travel to and from Washington, DC.

As a reminder, the FY22 budget process continues at the agency level. If you are not communicating with your agency contacts, you are missing critical opportunities to shape outcomes.