Last night, a bipartisan, bicameral group of Senators and Representatives (“908 Coalition”) unveiled legislation to provide $908 billion in COVID-19 emergency aid. The 908 Coalition released S. ____, the “Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020”, which provides $748 billion of COVID-19 relief, including an additional $15 billion of emergency funding for public transit, $8 billion for over-the-road bus providers, and $1 billion for Amtrak. Please click here to view a summary of the Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020. The 908 Coalition also released draft legislation, the “Bipartisan State and Local Support and Small Business Protection Act of 2020”, which provides $160 billion for state and local governments and liability protections for employers. Please click here to view a summary of the Bipartisan State and Local Support and Small Business Protection Act of 2020.
The most likely avenue for this bill to be enacted is for Congress to attach this bill to the forthcoming Omnibus Appropriations bill, which Congress could consider this week.
APTA is aggressively focused on urging Congress to provide $32 billion in emergency funding to ensure that public transit agencies can survive. Today, APTA joins with members, industry partners, and advocates to #SavePublicTransit and shine a light on the dire financial crisis facing the industry.
We are encouraged by the negotiations on the Emergency Coronavirus Relief bill and urge Congress to pass an emergency relief bill prior to adjourning for the year. If Congress provides $15 billion of emergency transit funding in COVID-19 relief legislation, APTA will continue to aggressively advocate for additional emergency transit funding in the new year.
Summary of the Public Transit and Amtrak Provisions of the 908 Coalition COVID Relief Package
A primary objective of the $15 billion of emergency transit funding is to ensure that public transit agencies receive sufficient funding, when combined with their CARES Act apportionments, to equal at least 75 percent of public transit agencies’ operating expenses. To the maximum extent possible, these funds and CARES Act funds shall be directed to payroll and public transit operations. The transit funds provided under the Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act are available for operating expenses and the federal share is 100 percent.
Chapter 4 of Title III of the bill distributes the emergency transit funds through multiple mechanisms:
APTA staff continue to analyze the impacts of the formula distribution of funds to urbanized areas and rural areas under the draft bill.
The bill provides several additional conditions for the funding:
Title III of the bill provides $1.0 billion for Amtrak grants to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19, including:
Section 3001 sets aside $92 million of the Northeast Corridor funds to be available to Amtrak in lieu of commuter rail and State-supported route payments on the Northeast Corridor. Similarly, section 3002 sets aside $145 million of National Network funds to be available to Amtrak and apportioned to State payments.
In addition, section 3003 prohibits Amtrak from waiving rail labor laws or Buy America and prohibits contracting out of any scope-covered work covered by an employee who was furloughed. The bill also directs Amtrak to use the funds to allow furloughed employees to be recalled when Amtrak restores service.
President-Elect Biden Selects Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation
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