The Senate’s Busy First Week Of June

This Week, The Senate Passed A Bill Updating The PPP Program, Confirmed The Inspector General For Pandemic Recovery, And Held Seven Hearings On COVID-19 And CARES Oversight, In Sharp Contrast With The House, Which, As Sen. Schumer Says, ‘Is Not In Session Now’


SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “[T]here is plenty of work before the Senate. And unlike the Democratic House of Representatives, which I understand may next appear here in Washington in about a month, the Senate is present and working. We are continuing to conduct oversight on our historic rescue package, the CARES Act, as it continues taking effect. I expect we will soon consider further bipartisan legislation to help the Paycheck Protection Program, the signature policy from Senators Rubio and Collins that has kept tens of millions of Americans employed, continue to work for the country. As we pivot toward re-opening, the Senate is also working on significant COVID-related legal protections, so our nation’s schools, healthcare workers, and employers are not swamped with frivolous lawsuits and taxpayer dollars do not just stimulate the pockets of trial lawyers. At the same time, critical vacancies remain throughout the federal government, and qualified nominees stand ready to fill them.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/04/2020)

  • SEN. McCONNELL: “[W]e also have all the important legislation that needed to get done before the pandemic arrived in the first place. This month, we’ll turn to bipartisan legislation, led by Senators Gardner and Daines, to provide stable support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and lasting stewardship of our natural resources. Their bill will safeguard our nation’s public lands for recreation and conservation and help generations of Americans continue to access and enjoy these treasures. And in the coming weeks, our colleagues on the Armed Services Committee will begin marking up the 60th consecutive annual National Defense Authorization Act…. So, Congress’ to-do list is clear. And the Senate is manning its essential post, working to get the American people’s business done.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/04/2020)

SENATE MAJORITY WHIP JOHN THUNE (R-SD): “As the leader pointed out, the Senate’s going to be very busy, and we have a couple of really important circuit court nominees that we’re going to consider in the next couple of weeks. We have the Great Outdoors Act, which will take a good amount of time on the floor, and the Defense Authorization bill. So, the month of June is going to be [busy] here in the United States Senate, and we’re going to be working and continuing to look for meaningful solutions to deal with the challenges facing the American people as it pertains to the COVID-19 virus as well.” (Sen. Thune, Press Conference, 6/02/2020)

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): “Well, the Senate is working and in session and the House is missing in action. [I]f you’ve taken a look at Nancy Pelosi’s calendar, the next time the House is going to actually be voting is not for another four weeks…. And yet the Senate has four votes today. We have seven committee hearings this week, all focused on the economy, reopening the country, getting people back to work, getting people back to school.” (Sen. Barrasso, Press Conference, 6/02/2020)


The Senate Passed An Important Bipartisan Update To The PPP Loan Program, Giving Small Businesses More Flexibility

“The Senate passed legislation Wednesday to provide more flexibility to small businesses that have received forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, giving them more time to use the money just ahead of a deadline to forgive the first round of payments. The legislation passed by unanimous consent and now goes to President Trump’s desk, following House passage of the bill last week.” (“Senate Passes Bill To Increase Flexibility For Small-Business Loan Program, Sending It To Trump’s Desk,” The Washington Post, 6/03/2020)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee Chairman: “I am glad Congress came together to provide much-needed flexibility for small business owners to use their PPP loans as our economy begins to re-open…. The PPP is a pro-worker, bipartisan program that has been hugely successful in protecting 50 million employees and helping small business owners endure this crisis. I will continue to work with the Administration, and my colleagues, to ensure the PPP continues to benefit millions of small businesses and workers.” (Sen. Rubio, Press Release, 6/03/2020)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): “The Paycheck Protection Program is the single most critical stimulus program protecting Main Street America from the economic devastation of the measures taken to control the spread of COVID-19.” (Sen. Collins, Congressional Record, S.2590, 5/21/2020)

SEN. STEVE DAINES (R-MT): “I’m glad to have secured passage of my bipartisan bill to increase flexibility in the Paycheck Protection Program to ensure Montana small businesses have the relief they need to stay open, support our workers and protect jobs. My bipartisan proposal is the result of listening to feedback from Montanans on what flexibility they need under PPP to make it even more effective. I look forward to getting flexibility for Montana small businesses and workers using PPP signed into law.” (Sen. Daines, Press Release, 6/03/2020)

SEN. CORY GARDNER (R-CO): “We must continue improving the Paycheck Protection Program to meet the needs of Coloradans and their small businesses. I’ve heard constantly from small business owners in Colorado who say the PPP provides essential support to get through this pandemic, but there are important ways the program can better help small businesses. These modifications are a good step, and I’ll continue to work with my colleagues to increase flexibility and ensure the relief Congress provided can be used by those in need.” (Sen. Gardner, Press Release, 6/03/2020)

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): “I’ve spoken with countless North Carolina business owners, and the Paycheck Protection Program has been a lifeline for them and their employees to get them through this pandemic. I am proud Congress could come together to make necessary fixes to provide flexibility to keep small businesses open and protect the jobs of workers. I’ll continue to work across the aisle on commonsense, bipartisan solutions to provide relief to small businesses and their employees.” (Sen. Tillis, Press Release, 6/03/2020)


The Senate Confirmed The Special Inspector General For Pandemic Recovery, To Help Oversee Implementation Of The CARES Act And Other Government Recovery Efforts

“The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Trump-appointee Brian Miller as the special inspector general to oversee the taxpayer-funded coronavirus pandemic recovery fund.” (CBS News, 6/02/2020)

  • “Miller worked for nearly a decade as the inspector general of the General Services Administration, overseeing major waste, fraud and abuse cases.” (Politico, 6/02/2020)

“As special inspector general, Miller will oversee a $500 billion Treasury fund and is tasked with conducting audits and investigations on the purchase and sale of loans and loan guarantees related to the CARES Act. That law mandated the creation of Miller’s role as an independent watchdog within the Treasury Department.” (CBS News, 6/02/2020)

  • “Along with a budget of $25 million and a staff of more than 100, Miller will oversee how the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve deploy $454 billion to create upwards of $4 trillion in lending facilities aimed at keeping financial markets operational and offering larger businesses enough bridge lending to make it through the sharp recession caused by COVID-19. The inspector general will also track another $46 billion provided to the airline industry and companies considered ‘critical to maintaining national security.’” (“Senate Confirms Miller To Be Pandemic Inspector General,” Roll Call, 6/02/2020)


Senate Committees Held Hearings On Many Important Topics Related To COVID-19 And On Oversight Of The CARES Act









The Senate Also Confirmed Nominees For Important Pentagon Positions, Filled More Judicial Vacancies, And The Judiciary Committee Advanced Justin Walker’s Nomination To The D.C. Circuit Court Of Appeals

“The Senate has filled two empty seats at the Pentagon... On Tuesday, the Senate voted 75-15 to approve Victor Mercado to be assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities. That was followed by a Wednesday vote, 78-17, to confirm James Anderson — currently confirmed for the role Mercado will take over — to be deputy undersecretary of defense for policy.” (“Senate Confirms Anderson, Mercado To Defense Policy Jobs,” Defense News, 6/03/2020)

The Senate confirmed John Badalamenti to be United States District Judge for the Middle District of Florida and Drew Tipton to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Texas. (PN1430, 116th Congress; PN1440, 116th Congress)

“President Donald Trump’s latest nominee to the court often referred to as the second highest in the land advanced to the full Senate. The Republican-led Judiciary Committee voted on… Thursday to clear Judge Justin Walker’s selection to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. … Walker, 38, is a protege of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow Kentuckian, and a former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he was on the D.C. Circuit. He also clerked for former Justice Anthony Kennedy.” (“Justin Walker’s Nomination to D.C. Cir. Goes to Full Senate,” Bloomberg Law, 6/04/2020)

The Senate also confirmed Michael Pack to be Chief Executive Officer of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. (PN1590, 116th Congress)


Senate Committees Also Met To Hold Other Oversight Hearings And Consider Important Government Functions




  • Thursday, June 4: Markup: Executive Business Meeting on authorizing subpoenas relating to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation and on the nomination of Justin Walker to be United States Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit



And Committees Held Hearings On Nominees For OMB Director, The National Labor Relations Board, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, And Other Positions


  • Wednesday, June 3: Hearing on the nomination of Russell Vought to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget.


  • Tuesday, June 2: Hearing on the nominations of Russell Vought to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Craig E. Leen to be Inspector General, Office of Personnel Management.
  • Wednesday, June 3: Hearing on nominees to be Governors of the U.S. Postal Service and to be Associate Judges on Superior Court of the District of Columbia.


  • Wednesday, June 3: Executive Session on nominees for Assistant Secretary of Labor and for the National Labor Relations Board, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, National Science Foundation, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.


  • Thursday, June 4: Hearing on nominations for Deputy Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, U.S. Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition Of Chemical Weapons, and nominees to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Asian Development Bank, and the United States Agency for International Development.


The Senate Passed A Bipartisan Package Of Bills On Priorities For Indian Tribes

The Senate passed by voice vote S. 886, the Indian Water Rights Settlement Extension Act, with a substitute amendment offered by Sens. Tom Udall (D-MN), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Mitt Romney (R-UT) that incorporates four more bills: S. 2365, the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act of 2019, S. 279, the Tribal School Federal Insurance Parity Act, S. 1875, the Aamodt Litigation Settlement Completion Act of 2019, and S. 1207, the Navajo-Utah Water Rights Settlement Act. (S. 886, 116th Congress; U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Press Release, 6/04/2020)

SEN. JOHN HOEVEN (R-ND), Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman: “This package of four bills includes important priorities for Indian Tribes, including provisions to improve access to health care for tribal school employees and Native veterans. The package includes legislation providing parity for all tribal school employees to access health benefits provided to federal employees. The second bill enables Native veterans living in urban areas to access medical care through Indian Health Service-funded Urban Indian Organizations. The other pieces of legislation authorize funding for water development projects important to Tribes, including extending the Aamodt water settlement to 2028.” (U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Press Release, 6/04/2020)



Related Issues: Education, Jobs, Infrastructure, Judicial Nominations, America's Military, Nominations, Back to Work, COVID-19, Economy, Small Business