The American Bus Association (ABA) recently released a statement after President Trump signed the latest Congressional funding aid package, which added more funds to the already depleted Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This bridge package, specifically aimed at small businesses, has been nicknamed CARES Act 3.5 by many, as the country awaits discussions of the next major stimulus on the level of the CARES Act.
“As we expected the original money earmarked for the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program ran out quickly and the government has to replenish it to help small businesses," said ABA President & CEO Peter Pantuso. "We support this legislation and every bit the government does to help businesses stay afloat during these dark times. However, we also know that whatever money was put in to replenish has already been spent as the program was over-subscribed with small businesses in desperate need of help. Unfortunately, adding more money to this program still does not help the private motorcoach industry or all of the group travel industry. The motorcoach industry needs $15 billion in grants and loans to ensure that our 3,000 independent, family-owned businesses survive this pandemic until Americans can travel again."
The aid package negotiated by congressional leaders and the administration would increase spending by about $483 billion according to the Congressional Budget Office. The latest aid package includes $321.3 billion in additional appropriations to support PPP, which the bill would modify to set some funds aside to support loans issued by smaller lenders; and $60 billion for separate disaster loans to small businesses.
The measure omits additional funding sought to support states and cities, and it does not change the eligibility rules for businesses to receive loans under PPP, which leaves many small businesses out of the loop.
The ABA is requesting $15 billion in loans and grants from Congress to ensure an essential sector in America's transportation stays afloat during this pandemic. In the third package, Congress meted out $100 billion for other transportation sectors such as the airlines, airports, Amtrak, and public transit but left out the motorcoach industry. Pantuso noted that if this industry fails, it will have devastating to consequences to the millions of Americans who rely on it to go to work, visit family, go on vacations, evacuate them when natural disasters strike, and move the military.
“We look forward to working with Congress on the fourth package to ensure our businesses will be there when America can start working and traveling again,” said Pantuso.
However, there is good news. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) requested Department of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell consider providing at least $5 billion in loans to over-the-road bus carriers under a program recently enacted by the CARES Act. The Economic Stabilization and Assistance to Severely Distressed Sectors of the U.S. Economy program allocates $454 billion to help struggling companies, such as those in the motorcoach industry.
“The motorcoach industry is not only an important part of the nation’s transportation network, it is also an important part of the economy, providing over 88,000 good-paying full-time equivalent jobs,” Neal and DeFazio wrote in the letter, which can be viewed here.
Pantuso applauded the chairmen for their efforts. “These chairmen are taking extraordinary steps to ensure the viability of a key mode of transportation mode that was overlooked in prior relief bills,” he said.
Visit buses.org for more information about ABA and COVID-19 resources for motorcoach operators.