US Reps call on Secretary Yellen to act quickly in providing CERTS funds

Led by original sponsors Rep. Darin LaHood and Rep. Albio Sires, more than 80 House members are asking Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to move quickly to disburse the $2 billion in CERTS Act funds.

The contingent of U.S. representatives wrote a Feb. 17 letter to the Treasury Secretary, urging fast action to provide “financial assistance, as authorized by Congress” in the CERTS Act to alleviate financial strain on motorcoach, school bus and passenger vessel companies.

“This past year,” the letter notes, “has been incredibly challenging for these vital transportation providers as almost all major sources of business and revenue have been severely restricted or eliminated by state-mandated closures — including school- and sports-related travel, tourism and mass public events. Unfortunately, indicators forecast that we will not be returning to normal operations for months. To ensure that these transportation service providers are ready and available for Americans once the economy reopens, emergency funding for these industries is necessary.”

Details becoming clear

While the Treasury’s timeline for announcing details for CERTS funding remains unclear, the agency has held conference calls with various national organizations and constituency groups throughout the industry to clarify several aspects, according to Ken Presley, Vice President, Legislative & Regulatory Affairs & Industry Relations for the United Motorcoach Association. 

A few details these meetings have yielded include:

  • There will be a portal established for applications, and it will not be part of
  • The application will not require a grant writer.
  • They anticipate 5,000 applications.
  • And it will be months before checks are issued.

“I know that’s something that none of us wants to hear but we always want to tell you the raw truth because you guys are out there making business plans,” Presley said of the timing during the UMA’s March 17 Town Hall session.

Quick reaction

He added that the House of Representatives reacted quickly to the delays.

“They’re telling them, ‘Please move as quickly as possible. … This was emergency relief money that we’ve sent, and we don’t need to be sitting around for months on $2 billion,’” Presley said. 

He repeated the reminder to operators to have 2019 and 2020 income statements ready, along with payroll for those years, and the total of any prior aid received, such as Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) and other grants.

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