Proposed COVID-19 Emergency Relief Bill includes $45B for transportation

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Part of a bipartisan, bicameral $908 billion COVID-19 stimulus bill would provide $45 billion for transportation.

The bill, created by the 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans who make up The Problem Solvers Caucus, would provide relief for American students, families, businesses, workers, and healthcare providers as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the country.

“Our nation’s top economists have made it clear: Congress needs to act sooner than later on targeted focused relief,” said Rep. Dusty Johnson (D-AL), one of the Caucus members. “I’m proud to be a part of this bipartisan, bicameral group that’s put much-needed relief before politics. More than half of these dollars have been repurposed from CARES Act funding – it’s a responsible proposal. Our teachers, healthcare workers, business owners, and producers continue to step up as we battle COVID-19, it’s time Congress does too.”

The bill contains $17 billion for airlines, $8 billion for the motorcoach industry, $15 billion for mass transit, and $1 billion for Amtrak, among other transportation.

In past months, groups within the transportation industry have said they need financial assistance. Amtrak asked Congress for $5 billion earlier the fall. The Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York had asked for $12 billion alone.

But others in the industry welcomed the news.

A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio said that the introduction of the bill was welcome news.

“We appreciate the bipartisan group of senators who proactively negotiated the framework for a much-needed, comprehensive relief package for our country, which would include provisions intended to help airlines make payroll and protect the jobs of our industry’s hardworking employees. These men and women are the backbone of our industry and a critical component of our nation’s infrastructure,” Calio said. “Throughout the pandemic, U.S. airline employees have provided essential services, including transporting medical personnel, equipment, and supplies. Now, as our nation prepares for the approval of a coronavirus vaccine, it is more critical than ever that our employees are on the job and ready to assist with the distribution of these vaccines across the country and around the world.”

Previously, the airline industry received $25 billion in support from the CARES Act, passed in late March. However, when funding for direct payroll assistance for U.S. airlines expired in September, the airline industry was forced to furlough tens of thousands of employees, the group said.

The American Bus Association also applauded the legislation.

“We applaud those Senators and Representatives that came together to work for relief for millions of Americans and small businesses affected by COVID-19, including the private motorcoach industry,” said Peter Pantuso, president & CEO of ABA. “The motorcoach industry is on the verge of collapse without a lifeline to help it through this pandemic. Without this integral sector in America’s multi-modal transportation system, economic recovery will be impossible in the United States as communities – large and small – across the country would lose access to economical transportation.”