Capital Update: COVID-19 relief, executive orders and more

By Emory Office of Government and Community Affairs | Emory Report | Feb. 9, 2021

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Both the U.S. House and Senate Democrats considered budget resolutions last week, kicking off the first step toward consideration of a COVID-19 relief package under the reconciliation process. The budget resolution passed on Feb. 5, unlocking the reconciliation process and making it possible for the Democrats to pass a larger ($1.9 trillion) COVID-19 package without Republican support. The next step is for the designated committees to work within their jurisdictions and pass a package before the unemployment insurance supplemental expires on March 14.  Emory’s Office of Government and Community Affairs is closely monitoring this and looking for opportunities to include provisions that are beneficial for Emory. 

Administration Update

President Joe Biden and his team have hit the ground running, issuing a number of executive orders, halting the implementation of several regulatory rules, and beginning the cabinet confirmation process. He has appointed key White House staffers and, to date, has seven cabinet secretaries confirmed through the Senate.  

Since taking office, Biden has signed more than 45 executive orders, including a number aimed at getting the pandemic under control. Executive actions of interest to Emory include: 

  • Directing HHS and other agencies involved in the COVID-19 response to take immediate action using all available authorities, including using the Defense Production Act, to fill vaccine, testing and personal protective equipment supply gaps and to take steps to address the pricing of pandemic response supplies. 
  • Integrating a pre-clinical development program to develop therapeutics for COVID-19 and for future pandemics, with an eye towards ensuring proportional representation for historically underrepresented groups in clinical trials. 
  • Implementing a national COVID-19 testing strategy that aims to dramatically increase the number of Americans tested.
  • Increasing interagency coordination to gather more demographic data that can be used to drive a COVID-19 response that targets high-risk groups. 
  • Direct​ing FEMA to start setting up at least 100 federal vaccination centers within the next month. 
  • Rescinding former President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization.
  • Opening a special enrollment period for individuals to access health insurance through HealthCare.gov.
  • Charging the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy with responsibility for ensuring scientific integrity across federal agencies.  Agencies that oversee, direct or fund research are tasked with designating senior agency employees as chief science officers to ensure agency research programs are scientifically and technologically well founded.
  • Rescinding the Trump administration's 1776 Commission and directing agencies to review their actions to ensure racial equity.
  • Strengthening the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program
  • Reversing the Trump administration's restrictions on U.S. entry for passport holders from seven Muslim-majority countries. 

The Office of Government & Community Affairs will continue to provide periodic updates to the Emory community.