Congress Grants SEC New Authority in Securities Fraud Cases

Congress voted to give the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sweeping new authority to prosecute violations by creating a 10-year statute of limitations for the agency to seek disgorgement of ill-gotten gains from securities fraud.

A 1934 law had limited the SEC to seek disgorgement as a civil remedy only in administrative proceedings. But the new law allows the SEC to pursue ill-gotten gains in federal court.

The SEC provision is buried in an unrelated $740 billion defense reauthorization bill that Congress approved in December. President Donald Trump vetoed that underlying bill, but lawmakers overrode that veto, paving the way for the legislation – and its SEC language – to become law Jan. 1.

Click here for an in-depth BakerHostetler analysis of the new law and SEC’s new authority.

2021 BakerHostetler Congressional Calendar

Congressional leaders finalized the 2021 legislative calendar, which lists the days during the year when the House and Senate are scheduled to be in session, as well as days when House committees are scheduled to hold hearings but with no floor votes scheduled.

Click here to download your ready-to-print, one-page combination House and Senate calendar for 2021. Suitable for hanging on your wall all year long!

Congress Targets $2.3 Trillion COVID-19 Relief, Government Funding Package

Congress is scheduled to wrap up legislative business only days before Christmas by voting on a $2.3 trillion package of COVID-19 relief and government spending amid reports that coronavirus infections are spiking nationwide and as the first vaccines are being distributed.

The legislation – the product of furious last-minute negotiations that stalled passage for days – includes a mix of tax credits and direct cash payments, with nearly $1 trillion in COVID-related spending to address the still-wobbly economy and aid frontline healthcare workers.

In classic Washington fashion, the legislation mushroomed to more than 5,000 pages and included a host of non-COVID provisions –most notably, avoiding a government shutdown by including $1.3 trillion to fund federal programs until next fall. Continue Reading

What Happens If… Potential Election Outcomes and What They Could Mean

Election Day could produce massive changes in Washington and in the policies that would affect every American and every company. Even a status quo election could produce lasting regulatory consequences for key stakeholders. Just days before the 2020 election ends (maybe!), BakerHostetler’s Federal Policy team offers quick takes on the most likely scenarios and what they could mean for you.

Read more.

COVID-19 Legislative Response Phase 4

Congress in March approved three separate major bills responding to the COVID-19 pandemic – and work was not even finished on the third and largest bill before lawmakers began considering a possible “Phase 4” of the legislative response.

The House and Senate are currently not planning any legislative activity before April 20, unless events dictate otherwise. But work is already underway on ideas for Phase 4, with an eye toward late April for potential passage.

The Phase 3 bill is frequently called a “stimulus” but in reality its purpose was to stabilize the economy and prevent total collapse as businesses shut down and jobs vanish. Phase 4 is envisioned to pivot from stabilizing the economy to stimulating growth – from disaster mitigation to recovery. Continue Reading

COVID-19 Update: Congress’ Risk to Public Companies

Companies large and small are scrambling to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, including understanding the emerging economic risks that could affect their profits, their operations and even their very existence.

Add another burden to public companies’ growing roster of risks: Congress.

As lawmakers and the Trump administration prepare additional legislative responses to the crisis, there is a growing danger that extraneous items affecting public companies could be slipped into the bills.

The White House and congressional leaders are racing to approve what is likely to exceed $1 trillion in aid for displaced workers, the airline and tourism industries, healthcare providers, and more. But some lawmakers are looking to exploit the crisis to ensure non-coronavirus provisions affecting public businesses become law, too. Continue Reading

COVID-19 Update: $1 Trillion Stimulus Next Up

The Senate is beginning to draft what likely will be the largest emergency relief and fiscal stimulus legislation in the country’s history – more than $1 trillion – to address the mushrooming coronavirus pandemic.

The heart of the emerging plan will be as much as $500 billion in rebate checks to individuals and households, likely means-tested to target the relief to middle-class Americans. The White House is pushing for checks to go out as soon as April 6, with a second check on May 18.

That package also is expected to include tens of billions of dollars in relief for the airline industry and other sectors, a loan program for small businesses, and more funding for state Medicaid expansion, unemployment benefits and paid sick leave.

It’s not clear when Congress will vote on this still-developing package. The Republican-controlled Senate is working through elements with the White House. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will need Democrats’ support for any aid package, which would require 60 votes in the Senate. Continue Reading

The Weekly Hill Update

Washington D.C. The capitol, the seat of the government of the United States.Below is the Federal Policy team’s weekly preview, posted when Congress is in session.

HEADLINES

•  After passing emergency funding to respond to the coronavirus, Washington is now turning to potential measures to bolster the economy – as equity markets opened Monday plummeting 7 percent before trading was halted.

•  President Donald Trump will meet with the prime minister of Ireland but plans to skip the annual Saint Patrick’s Day luncheon at the Capitol.

•  The House plans to vote on immigration-related legislation and may take up a renewal of foreign surveillance powers, while the Senate continues consideration of energy legislation.

HOUSE

  • The House will be in session today through Thursday. The agenda includes legislation to overturn President Trump’s ban on travel from certain countries, and to ensure access to counsel for detained immigrants.
  • Lawmakers also hope to renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which expires this week – but an agreement on renewal legislation is elusive.
  • House appropriators will continue their budget hearings, including with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
  • The full list of this week’s House committee activity can be found here.

SENATE

  • The Senate plans to resume consideration on a broad energy bill aiming to promote clean energy and grid modernization and security.
  • The Senate Commerce Committee will mark up six bills, including one on rural broadband and one on fighting doping in sports.
  • The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee plans to mark up 26 various bills.
  • The current list of Senate committee activity can be found here.

WHITE HOUSE

  • President Trump today is returning from Florida as his administration scrambles to mitigate the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Thursday he will meet with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and participate in the annual Shamrock Bowl presentation – but he will not attend the annual Saint Patrick’s Day luncheon at the Capitol amid his feud with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is hosting the event.
  • Later in the week he plans to travel to Colorado for a fundraiser for vulnerable Republican Sen. Cory Gardner.

Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

CORONAVIRUS WORRIES CONTINUE AFTER EMERGENCY FUNDING BILL

Congressional approval last week of emergency spending to address the coronavirus hasn’t allayed Capitol Hill’s concerns about preparedness and response as the impact of the virus in the United States rapidly escalates.

Two lawmakers – Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. – announced this weekend that after interacting with an individual last week who later tested positive for COVID-19, they were taking precautionary measures and would not be in Washington this week. The No. 3 elected House Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., was absent from a GOP retreat in Maryland this weekend because she wanted to limit participation in nonessential gatherings.

President Donald Trump on Friday signed legislation providing $8.3 billion to fight the outbreak, primarily through the Department of Health & Human Services. Continue Reading

Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

CONGRESS SPEEDS TOWARD EMERGENCY CORONAVIRUS FUNDING PACKAGE

As novel coronavirus continues to sweep the globe, Congress and the White House are assembling a spending package with billions in emergency spending and new authorities to combat the crisis.

Leaders hope to reach an agreement by as soon as this afternoon, which procedurally would allow the House to vote Wednesday and the Senate to approve it before the end of the week.

House and Senate appropriators worked through the weekend to provide billions to the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) and the State Department to help fight the global outbreak and limit its spread in the United States. Continue Reading

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