Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines, March 12 2021

Your guide to the latest Hill developments, news narratives, and media headlines from Hogan Lovells Government Relations and Public Affairs practice.

In Washington:

  • Congressional Democrats are urging the Treasury Department and IRS to “take every effort” to implement a new tax exemption for unemployment benefit recipients. The just-signed coronavirus relief law makes tax-free the first $10,200 in unemployment benefits that goes to people with incomes under $150,000 in 2020. About 20 lawmakers from both houses urged Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in a letter sent Friday "to ensure that all eligible individuals, including those who have already filed their 2020 tax return, are aware of and able to receive this critical relief." 
  • Rep. Kevin Brady (TX), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, said Friday that the IRS should "seriously consider" extending the tax-filing deadline. Brady said the IRS has a large workload, a tax returns backlog, and now must issue a new round of direct payments and implement tax changes from the coronavirus relief law. "I'd be very open to extending that tax-filing deadline. I think it could be helpful," Brady said on a call with reporters. Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) has already urged the same extension.
  • Enhanced Obamacare subsidies under the Democrats' new stimulus package will become available to shoppers on the law's health insurance markets starting April 1, Biden administration officials said Friday.
  • A pro-Biden super PAC has secured a surge of TV and digital ads selling the coronavirus relief package that will hit the airwaves next week as President Biden and Vice President Harris embark on a national tour to promote the law. Unite the Country has launched a seven-figure ad campaign in the swing states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, and Georgia. The ads cast the relief bill as a campaign promise Biden kept. Biden last week lamented that President Obama was too “modest” about taking a “victory lap” after the 2009 stimulus package passed. 


In the News:

  • Novavax’s coronavirus vaccine is more than 96 percent effective against the original virus and prevents severe Covid-19 illness entirely, the pharmaceutical company announced Thursday. The vaccine was 86% effective in protecting against the more contagious virus variant first discovered and now prevalent in the United Kingdom, for a combined 90% effectiveness rate overall based on data from infections of both versions of the coronavirus.
  • According to a new Reuters poll 62 percent of Americans think that people who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t be allowed on airplanes. Fifty-five percent say the same for public gyms, movie theaters, or concerts. Fifty-four percent of respondents said they were “very interested” in getting the COVID-19 vaccine and 27 percent said they were not interested in getting it. As of Friday, 18 percent of Americans received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • All adults in Michigan will be eligible to get the coronavirus vaccine by April 5, the state announced on Friday. Additionally, according to the State Emergency Operations Center, residents aged 16 and older who have disabilities or a medical condition that puts them at high risk for a severe reaction to COVID-19 will be eligible for the vaccine by March 22. According to data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, over 2.8 million vaccine doses have been administered thus far in Michigan, which has a population of about 10 million people.
  • Consumer sentiment in early March rose to its highest point level since the pandemic began a year ago, signaling optimism among Americans as the economic recovery starts to take hold. The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, released Friday, rose 8.1 points to 83, the strongest showing since the coronavirus prompted lockdowns nationwide. Still, the survey indicated that consumers felt their own financial situations were not improving, even if they believed the broader economy was.

Authored by Ivan Zapien

Ivan Zapien
Washington, D.C.
Shelley Castle
Legislative Specialist
Washington, D.C.


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