May 6, 2020

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

GPG examined over 400 recent letters that lawmakers have written to their leadership and the administration to see what they’re most concerned about— and how specific topics are trending over time.

Members of Congress typically use letters as a way to make requests or express their views and demonstrate what’s on their mind to constituents and colleagues

The letters show lawmakers’ top concern is wanting more congressional oversight of the administration’s response to the pandemic, such as the accessibility of testing, distribution of relief to small businesses and potential political influence over the response to the pandemic.

Those oversight concerns are followed by inquiries regarding medical/health issues and funding/appropriations. Members are calling on the administration to ensure personal protective equipment (PPE) and virus tests are being made available and hospitals, affected communities and businesses are being funded.

We expect oversight to remain a hot topic of congressional letters, especially if the administration moves to implement any additional COVID-19 relief packages Congress passes.

Members also expressed concern about food supply and prices and access to technology and privacy as learning and working move more fully online.Notably, President Trump is not the most common recipient of these letters. Department ofHealth and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has received more letters related to COVID-19 than anyone else.

We Get The Job Done

The pandemic is increasing scrutiny on the treatment of immigrants due to their outsize role in the essential workforce.

The Center for Migration Studies has released a new report estimating immigrants make up approximately 18% of workers deemed essential during COVID-19. For the food and health care industries in particular, the proportions are much higher.

In response to this narrative, the National Immigration Forum, José Andrés and a number of other organizations have today launched #AllofUs, a campaign to highlight the contributions of diverse Americans to the crisis. 

The disproportionate reliance on immigrants who do essential work has made CARES Act stimulus exclusions even starker.

The Georgetown Law’s Institute of Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP) has filed a new claim with this argument in the District Court of Maryland. The claim argues the CARES Act’s refusal to provide the $500 stimulus to American citizen children of undocumented parents is unconstitutional. ICAP’s Legal Director, Mary McCord, notes it “undermines the CARES Act’s goals of providing assistance to Americans in need, frustrates the act’s efforts to jumpstart the economy and punishescitizen children for their parents’ status – punishment that is particularly nonsensical given that undocumented immigrants collectively pay billions of dollars each year in taxes.”

COVID-19 By The Numbers

Capital Recap

This is the first installment in a regular feature highlighting what’s happening on Capitol Hill and in the administration as the pandemic continues.

Today the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies held the first of what will likely be a series of oversight hearings on the federal response to COVID-19

Dr. Anthony Fauci and other members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force will testify next week before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. And Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), will testify before the House Energy & Commerce Committee

President Trump has clarified Vice President Pence’s comment earlier this week that the White House was considering winding down the Coronavirus Taskforce. In a tweet thread, the president noted the taskforce would continue “indefinitely” but shift its focus to safely reopening the country, and its membership may change.

Members more focused on the medical response to the virus will likely be replaced by those involved in economic recovery.  

As for the next phase of coronavirus relief legislation, House and Senate Republican Leaders continue to oppose moving quickly on the next bill. 
Yesterday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said a Democratic proposal could come to the floor as early as next week, even without bipartisan support.

A Time to Give

Twitter was abuzz Tuesday as people around the world came together virtually for #GivingTuesdayNow. The new day of giving organized by GivingTuesday— normally celebrated the Tuesday after Thanksgiving— came together as an emergency response to COVID-19.

215,000 tweets mentioned the holiday, with individuals discussing donating to organizations on the frontlines, performing acts of kindness for neighbors and friends and volunteering virtually for nonprofits.

Organizations like Feeding America used the #GivingTuesdayNow hashtag to promote the important work they’re doing throughout the crisis. New York Times journalist Nick Kristof took to Twitter to provide a list of impactful organizations that need support right now. 

According to Google Trends, searches for “how to help” have spiked since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. Worldwide, searches for “help the community,” “how to volunteer” and “food donation” have all reached an all-time high.Giving Tuesday even created an interactive map to highlight the amazing generosity during this time of great need. You can click through the map to read inspiring stories from Los Angeles to Cape Town to Singapore.