Today, House and Senate Democrats unveiled the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, following nearly two weeks of protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd. The comprehensive package that would make structural changes to the way police officers do their jobs. Holding police officers accountable, establishing a national database to increase transparency about police misconduct, and requiring training on racial bias and duty to intervene are among the reforms. The House is expected to vote on the measure this month. It is unclear if Republicans will support the legislation and if the Republican-controlled Senate will take up the bill, as Republicans were not involved in its development. President Trump is hosting a roundtable with law enforcement this afternoon.
Throughout the week, both chambers will convene hearings on the COVID-19 pandemic focused on a range of issues – including small businesses, unemployment insurance, housing – that may inform the next coronavirus relief package. Last Friday, President Trump and Senate Republicans signaled that an additional “targeted” stimulus bill is necessary. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reiterated “future efforts” would be “laser-focused” on reopening the economy.
Tomorrow, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) will evaluate federal procurement and distribution of medical supplies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The witness panel features FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor; Rear Admiral John Polowczyk who was appointed to run the White House supply chain task force; and Admiral Brett Giroir who will soon be leaving his position as the Trump administration’s testing czar and returning to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Based on his oversight plans released following passage of the CARES Act (Public Law No: 116-136), HSGAC Chairman Ron Johnson’s (R-WI) questions may focus on the readiness of the Strategic National Stockpile, supply chain issues, and the use and accuracy of infectious disease modeling to guide response efforts. On a related note, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report (requested by House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders) recommending that HHS improve coordination of infectious disease modeling across federal agencies – which can help guide disease control policies and allocate resources.
HSGAC Ranking Member Gary Peter (D-MI) is expected to push for the COVID-19 Testing Inventory Act. His bill would require HHS, in consultation with FEMA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Indian Health Service (IHS), to publish key information on the nation’s COVID-19 testing capacity, including the distribution of tests, authorized laboratories, authorized tests, and testing sites.
Also, on Tuesday, House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change will examine the relationship between environmental pollution and demographic disparities in COVID-19. Of note, the updated Report to Congress, required by the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (Public Law No: 116-139), on COVID-19 testing and demographic characteristics is due next Monday (June 15). It is unclear how impactful HHS’ new guidance, as directed by the CARES ACT, requiring laboratories report demographic data (including race, ethnicity, age, and sex), beginning August 1, will be on producing a more comprehensive report.