COVID-19 Legislative Update - 3-23-2020

Policy Resolution Group COVID-19 Legislative Update March 23, 2020 Manic Monday

• Walking to the edge of the cliff. o Today began with a stark contrast in messaging from the Senate party leaders.

 Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) accused Democrats of exploiting the crisis to try to secure policy wins that are not relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic, and said a deal absolutely needs to be reached today. • One notable mention in McConnell’s floor diatribe related to renewable energy credits he says Democrats are demanding in exchange for the bill’s $3 billion to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

o With no sign of energy tax provisions in the base bill or any existing Democratic alternatives, we expect this debate to be reprised at a later “phase.”  There are a few items, such as the need to address supply chain problems or delay start construction dates for projects eligible to receive various renewable energy tax credits that could plausibly be tied to the COVID-19 emergency. If anything could slip into this round as a face-saving victory for Democrats, it would be these types of provisions.

 Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) countered by saying that he is continuing negotiations with the White House and Treasury Department, indicating that they are “very close,” and that he expects a deal on Phase Three soon.  The subtext of this frustration, and the source of the disconnect, lies in the fact that Schumer continues to negotiate directly with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and White House Legislative Affairs staffer Eric Ueland, a longtime Senate hand, leaving McConnell effectively sidelined.  This quote from a Senior Administration Official sums up the dynamic: “It's hot on the floor but cool in the back room.”

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