Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines, March 9 2021

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

In Washington:

  • The House is expected to take a final vote on Wednesday morning to pass the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. The House received the bill and processing papers from the Senate on Tuesday morning. After the House took a procedural vote Tuesday on the legislation, final passage is expected on Wednesday morning, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's (D-MD) office said.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a fact sheet on the Senate-passed version of H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan of 2021. The document reviews differences between the two chambers’ versions and urges members to vote “yes” for the final passage.
  • Top Biden administration health officials, including Anthony Fauci, will testify in the House for the first time during Biden’s presidency next week about U.S. vaccination efforts. At the March 17 hearing, officials are likely to face questions about other vaccines in the pipeline and how quickly they can be authorized. The U.S. has pre-paid for hundreds of millions of doses from companies like Novavax and AstraZeneca, but those vaccines have yet to come to the market. There will also likely be questions about how vaccines will impact the spread of new, more contagious variants of the virus.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services announced it will be allocating $250 million in federal grants to local governments to address COVID-19 safety and vaccinations in minority communities.  The Office of Minority Health (OMH) will be accepting applications for this new initiative through April 20, 2021.
  • A coalition of aviation and travel industry groups wrote a letter to COVID-19 Recovery Team Coordinator Jeffrey Zients, urging the administration to develop uniform and targeted federal guidance on COVID-19 health credentials (CHCs).  The “passports” would let travelers show they have been tested and vaccinated for COVID-19.   The groups believe this will help revive the beleaguered travel industry.
  • A group of progressive Democratic lawmakers is calling for the Biden administration to reverse its decision to require stats to hold standardized testing in K-12 schools this year.  The administration had announced in February that it would require states to conduct the annual assessments.  The lawmakers, being led by former middle school principal Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), believe that requiring testing will add stress to children who have already had a disruptive year and divert resources needed to reopen schools.
  • The American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association showed support for extending school days and expanding access to tutoring and summer learning programs to help students make up for classroom time lost due to school closures forced by the coronavirus pandemic.  The two teachers unions included the proposal as part of their joint plan for post-COVID education. 

In the News:

  • A new poll by Gallup shows that the number of Americans who say they're abiding by social distancing rules has held steady as more people get the coronavirus vaccine. The survey released Tuesday found that 47 percent of respondents say they are practicing strict social distancing and avoiding contact with those who do not live in their home, down only 3 percent from November and December before the vaccine rollout began. Although only 9 percent of the U.S. population is vaccinated, 2 million coronavirus shots are being given out a day.
  • The number of drug company inspections conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has dropped significantly due to the pandemic, resulting in a delay of new drug approvals. The New York Times reports that the FDA conducted 52 drug company inspections between March and October last year, a sharp drop from the 400 inspections that were conducted in 2019 between the same months. Mary Denigan-Macauley, director of healthcare at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), called any drop concerning. She testified before a House Appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday on the FDA's inspection backlog.
  • Forty-three percent of Americans are experiencing loss of income related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new poll by The Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The poll found that about half of the Americans surveyed experienced at least one form of household income loss during the pandemic: 25 percent faced a household layoff, and 31 percent said a member of their household was scheduled for fewer hours. Overall, 44 percent of respondents said their pandemic-related income loss currently their finances.
  • New York is expanding vaccine eligibility to everyone over the age of 60 beginning March 10, officials announced. Previously, only residents 65 and up, as well as certain essential workers and people with specific certain underlying conditions were eligible for the vaccine. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Tuesday also said public-facing essential workers from governmental and nonprofit entities will be eligible beginning March 17.

Authored by Ivan Zapien

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


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