Coronavirus Government Response Update—Senate Hearing Highlights Return-to-Work Bonus

June 12, 2020 Coronavirus Government Response Update—Senate Hearing Highlights Return-to-Work Bonus

Welcome to the Coronavirus Government Response Update. This information is intended to keep ISSA members up to date on fast-moving government affairs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other public policy issues important to the cleaning industry. Today’s update touches on ISSA supporting a return-to-work bonus legislative proposal, extension of support for ethanol in hand sanitizer production, a Circuit Court’s rejection of AFL-CIO’s lawsuit against OSHA, and more.

Senate Finance Committee Hearing Highlights Portman’s Return to Work Bonus
Tuesday’s Senate Finance Committee hearing highlighted U.S. Senator Rob Portman’s (OH-R) return-to-work bonus, which would provide a US$450 bonus per week for individuals resuming their jobs. “ISSA believes it’s critical to have a workforce that’s ready to step into their old jobs or newly available jobs as the economy reopens,” ISSA Director of Government Affairs John Nothdurft commented. “Cleaning companies and professionals are playing a critical role in maintaining clean and healthy environments for employees and customers. The demand for increased cleaning and disinfection requires more of these critical workers. This proposal would help fill these essential jobs.”

Bill Introduced to Extend Support for Ethanol in Hand Sanitizer Production Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced The Hand Sanitizer Guidance Extension Act, which would extend the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Temporary Policy for Preparation of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency for at least two years. The legislation would enable continued production of ethanol for hand sanitizer at a time of shortage to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Moreover, it would give ethanol producers that have invested in or altered operations to meet the need for hand sanitizer a longer time to recoup costs and have some additional certainty.

D.C. Circuit Rejects AFL-CIO Lawsuit Seeking COVID-19 Safety Rule from OSHA
The Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a lawsuit from the AFL-CIO that would compel the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which has not specifically addressed COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses, to issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS) on COVD-19 protections for employees. “In light of the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the regulatory tools that the OSHA has at its disposal to ensure that employers are maintaining hazard-free work environments…the OSHA reasonably determined that an ETS is not necessary at this time,” the panel stated.

Trump Considers Suspending Visas through Fall
With the backdrop of rising U.S. unemployment, potential visa suspension extensions through October 1 could apply to the already-suspended: H-1B, J-1, and L-1 visas. President Donald Trump is also considering a suspension on the H-2 visa, which as of now is still being processed as much as possible.

Risk of New Lockdowns Increasing with Fear of Second COVID-19 Wave
Half a dozen U.S. states, including Texas and Arizona, report climbing numbers of coronavirus hospitalizations. “More hospitalizations inevitably mean more deaths ahead,” said Spencer Fox, research associate at the University of Texas at Austin. As a result, the threat of a second wave “remains very real” according to World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Other links of interest