An updated version of the House Democrat-led Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act contains no mention of a COVID-19 bailout for the school bus and motorcoach industries.
The $2.2 trillion updated bill released on Monday and passed by the House at week’s end would provide $182 billion for public K-12 education and $57 billion to support childcare for families, restore the additional $600 per week in unemployment insurance, and give each adult taxpayer another $1,200 and their dependents $500 in “economic impact payments.”
The HEROES Act also offers to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency and to the airline industry. But it omits provisions from the $10 billion Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services, or CERTS, Act that would help keep the operations of school bus and motorcoach companies as well as U.S. based passenger vessel afloat during the ongoing health crisis.
The money would go toward paying for vehicles and equipment, personal protection equipment, rent, leases, insurance, and debt service. As of Friday, the CERTS Act has garnered bipartisan support from 235 House members and 56 senators.
“NSTA is disappointed that despite having 235 [House] co-sponsors, the CERTS Act may not be considered by the House of Representatives in its current stimulus package,” commented Curt Macysyn, executive director of NSTA, in an email to School Transportation News on Wednesday. “We will continue to pursue relief for school bus contractors through continued dialogue with the House, Senate, and Trump administration.”
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On Friday, NSTA, UMA, the American Bus Association (ABA), and the Passenger Vessel Association said that COVID-19 has resulted in an estimated 308,000 employee jobs that have been furloughed.
“We play a critical role in evacuating citizens when there are hurricanes and wildfires. We move our troops and their equipment from base-to-base or when leaving or returning home from missions. We relieve congested roadways in urban areas by providing commuter service and shuttle service,” said ABA President and CEO Peter Pantuso in a statement on Tuesday. “We take kids to school and on school trips and sporting events through charter service and provide vital transportation connections for rural communities with scheduled service. We are there whenever Americans need to travel. If Congress chooses to ignore the plight of 100,000 workers and 3,000 small businesses, half of our industry will be gone when America needs us.”
However, multiple news outlets reported on Wednesday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have yet to reach an agreement on the stimulus deal, with Mnuchin countering the House Democrat plan with a $1.5 trillion proposal.