News Roundups

Talks in Congress Stalemated, Airline Layoffs Despite Federal Aid, and More

Daily news headlines about the stimulus and recovery from July 39, 2020.

Dozens of facilities skipping out on EPA pollution monitoring have prior offenses

More than 50 facilities across the country that have faced enforcement actions for alleged Clean Water Act violations are among those taking advantage of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) policy that lets companies forgo pollution monitoring during the pandemic, an analysis by The Hill found.

The temporary EPA policy, announced in March, says industrial, municipal and other facilities do not have to report pollution discharges if they can demonstrate their ability to do so has been limited by the coronavirus.

The Hill first reported that 352 facilities have skipped water pollution monitoring requirements under the policy, which applies to air pollution as well. Of those facilities, 55 have faced formal enforcement actions in the past five years from either the EPA or state regulators.

Read more

Virus Relief Talks in Congress Stalemated as Time Runs Short

Democrats and Republicans have given no ground after three days of negotiations on a virus relief package as enhanced unemployment insurance for millions of out-of-work Americans and protections from evictions run out.

“We are still very far apart on a lot of issues,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said after leaving House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office Wednesday evening.

Read more

Congress Seeks to Fix $120 Billion Tax Snafu in PPP Loans

Congress left a loose end in March’s economic-relief law that could end up costing small businesses $120 billion in taxes, and lawmakers are still struggling to tie it up.

Lawmakers from both parties say small businesses that get loans forgiven under the Paycheck Protection Program should be able to deduct associated expenses, such as wages, on their tax returns.

Despite that consensus, Senate Republicans’ latest proposal omitted the provision. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin objected to including language that would allow the deductions, according to a Republican aide familiar with the discussions.

Read more

Lawmakers say airline contractors laid off more than 9,000 despite $728 million in federal aid

Three House Democrats on Wednesday slammed airline contractors that laid off more than 9,000 employees despite accepting millions in federal coronavirus aid.

The lawmakers asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to stop aid to the companies or ask for some of the funds back.

Congress set aside $32 billion in payroll support to the ailing airline industry in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March. Of that sum, $3 billion was set aside for contractors like caterers. The terms of the aid, which was mostly grants, prohibited recipients from laying workers off through Sept. 30.

Read more

Podcast: Relief, Rescue, Rebuild: The Case for a Sustainable Recovery

In this first episode, we speak to Leah Stokes, assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara and author of the new book Short Circuiting Policy. Leah makes the case for a green economic recovery, barriers to implementation, and what she would put in her ideal green stimulus bill. 

In the second half of the show, we turn to a joint interview with Oni Blair, executive director at LinkHouston, and Alex Laska, transportation policy advisor at Third Way. In this discussion, we focus on clean transportation policy and the need to “fix it first” — both with respect to infrastructure and equity issues — before tackling entirely new projects.

Read more