Congress fumbles as bus industry sits idle

Washington, DC – One need not look any further than their favorite cable news channel to know that progress on the current relief/stimulus is mired in negotiations and stark differences largely related to unemployment compensation and the size of the bill.

Ken Presley is UMA’s Vice President of Legislative & Regulatory Affairs and Industry Relations.

House Democrats proposed and passed a $3.5 trillion relief package in May (HEROES Act), and Senate Republicans offered their own $1 trillion proposal last week (HEALS Act).

With the exception of bus operations receiving subsidies under the FTA 5311 program, the Democrats House bill contained no relief programs for the motorcoach industry.

The Senate bill contains provisions for a new Paycheck Protection Program along with a provision for previous successful PPP applicants whose gross sales remain under 50% of 2019 revenues to apply for a second loan with similar forgiveness provisions.

The Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services Act (CERTS Act, S. 4150, H.R. 7642), introduced to be incorporated in the final relief/stimulus bill, continues to garner support and cosponsors.

Currently, 24 Senators and 28 House Members have signed on as cosponsors of the CERTS Act.

Meanwhile, a program recently discussed in the UMA Town Hall meetings referred to as the RESTART Act (S. 3814 – Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards A Recovery in Twenty-twenty Act) has garnered 46  Senate cosponsors and the House version boasts 72 cosponsors.

Some speculate that some parts of the RESTART Act will be included in the final relief/stimulus bill.

Briefly, the RESTART program would provide funding to cover the next 6 months of payroll, benefits, and fixed operating expenses for businesses that have taken a substantial revenue hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A share of that loan would be forgiven based on revenue losses suffered in 2020. Amounts not forgiven would be repaid over 7 years, with no interest payments due in the first year and no principal due for the first two years.

Negotiations on the relief/stimulus package will continue this week and UMA urges you to continue pressing your legislators to support and cosponsor the bill. The delays work to our advantage right now. As the Administration and Senate/House leadership continue negotiations we will continue the pressure for inclusion of the CERTS Act.

Insiders predict final posturing, agreement, and passage next week. Stay tuned!

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