The Heroes Act
Tonight (October 1), the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 925, “The Heroes Act”, a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 bill, by a vote of 214-207. The bill includes $32 billion of COVID-19 emergency transit funding, more than double the transit funding provided in the May version of the bill. The Heroes Act also provides $2.4 billion for Amtrak grants. For a summary of the transit and passenger rail provisions of the bill, please see APTA’s September 28, 2020 Legislative Alert.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and White House representatives, led by Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Chief of White House Staff Mark Meadows, continue to discuss a possible bipartisan compromise on COVID-19 legislation.
Continuing Appropriations and Surface Transportation Authorization Extension Act
Yesterday (September 30), the Senate passed H.R. 8337, Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act, and the President signed the bill. The bill prevents a federal government shutdown and continues current appropriations through December 11, 2020. In addition, the bill includes a one-year extension of the surface transportation authorization act.
APTA President and CEO Paul Skoutelas issued a statement applauding the bill for providing much-needed certainty regarding public transit funding. Please click here to view the APTA Press Release.
In the past 30 years, Congress has never enacted a one-year extension of surface transportation authorization programs after the lapse of a multi-year authorization act. The Surface Transportation Authorization Extension provides public transit agencies with much-needed certainty regarding public transit funding in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, and is a direct result of APTA’s advocacy with our Coalition partners on a unified surface transportation agenda. Please click here to view the Coalition letter.
Division B of the bill, the Surface Transportation Program Extension, authorizes at least $12.6 billion for public transit investment and includes several critical public transit priorities:
- Authorizes public transit funding for FY 2021 at amounts equal to the FY 2020 authorization as provided by the FAST Act (P.L. 114-94) and distributes the funds in the same manner as the prior year;
- Prevents a $6 billion (or 60 percent) across-the-board cut of FY 2021 transit formula funds to each public transit agency by prohibiting application of the Rostenkowski Test;
- Deposits $3.2 billion in the Mass Transit Account (MTA) of the Highway Trust Fund to ensure that the MTA will not run out of funds and FTA will be able to process grants in the upcoming fiscal year; and
- Extends the authorization for transit-oriented development (TOD) projects for Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loans and loan guarantees (which expires September 30, 2020) to September 30, 2021.
House Passes Stop Sexual Assault and Harassment in Transportation Act
Today, the House passed H.R. 5139, the “Stop Sexual Assault and Harassment in Transportation Act”, by voice vote. The bill requires public transit agencies, commuter and intercity passenger railroads, transportation network companies (TNCs), and other transportation modes to issue formal polices to help track and prevent sexual assaults and sexual harassment incidents. Under the bill, the policies are developed in consultation with labor representatives and include elements such as employee training, passenger outreach, confidential reporting, and potential bans for offenders. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) collects information on the number of sexual assault or harassment incidents and makes the information publicly available.
The bill also establishes civil penalties for individuals who physically or sexually threaten or assault transportation employees or take “any action that poses an imminent threat to the safety of a vehicle . . . that is transporting passengers.”
House Passes Protecting Patients Transportation to Care Act
On September 21, 2020, the House passed H.R. 3935, the “Protecting Patients Transportation to Care Act”, by voice vote. The bill adds Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) to the list of mandated Medicaid benefits by codifying current Medicaid NEMT regulations. In addition to mandating the NEMT benefit, the bill requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to convene a stakeholder working group to focus on Medicaid program integrity issues, and other challenges in providing NEMT services. The legislation also mandates that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services assess the guidance that CMS provides to states on the federal requirements for NEMT. Furthermore, H.R. 3935 includes driver requirements for providing NEMT services. Finally, the bill requires the Government Accountability Office to conduct a nationwide study on NEMT coverage to identify safeguards to prevent fraud and abuse in the program.
APTA’s Recommendations on Surface Transportation Authorization Law specifically propose that Congress mandate NEMT as a benefit in the Medicaid statute. The bill includes our Recommendation and APTA, together with Coalition partners, strongly supports the bill.
The bill is also incorporated into Title I of Division K of H.R. 925, The Heroes Act