Legislative Response

Congress has taken significant actions to address the economic impact of COVID-19. We will examine our industry and the legislation for opportunities for short lines to aid in the economic recovery that will be necessary following what will undoubtedly be some near-term pain. Below are the most recent actions, including the text of each bill, and Summaries that make the contents a little easier to understand.

Outlining the Impact of COVID-19 Legislation on Small Businesses & Railroads

ASLRRA has conducted a series of webinars to help members understand how the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) legislation impacts small railroads and industry suppliers. Recorded webinars are available in ASLRRA’s On-Demand Webinars Library.


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H.R.6074 - Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act

Enacted on March 6, 2020 (Public Law 116-123), this $8.3 billion package fully funded a robust response to coronavirus, including vaccine development, support for state and local governments, and assistance for affected small businesses.

The text of the legislation is here. A summary of the Legislation, detailing the titles in the bill provided by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, is here.

H.R.6201 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Enacted on March 18, 2020 (Public Law 116-127), this law provided for Unemployment Compensation, paid Sick Leave, paid Family and Medical Leave, provisions for diagnostic Testing and other Health Services, funding to for School Nutrition Programs, WIC, SNAP, Senior Food Programs, and waiver of liability for medical device manufacturers.

The text of the legislation is here. Below are several helpful summaries.

Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell Summary
Dept of Labor Regulations re: Coronavirus Sick Leave and FMLA Provisions
Department of Labor Summary
Families First Impact on Individuals
IRS Summary
Speaker of the House - Families First, COVID-19 Toolkit
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Summary

H.R.748 - Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

Enacted on March 27, 2020 (Public Law 116-136), this comprehensive package was designed to protect the health and well-being of all Americans. More than 80% ($274.231 billion) of the total $339.855 billion provided in the coronavirus emergency supplemental appropriations package goes to state and local governments and communities. Highlights include:

$117 Billion for Hospitals and Veterans Health Care
$45 Billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund
$16 Billion for the Strategic National Stockpile
$4.3 Billion for the Centers for Disease Control
$11 Billion for Vaccines, Therapeutics, Diagnostics, & Other Medical Needs

(Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies received $48.5 million.)

The text of the legislation can be found here. Summaries of the law are below.

PB Mares Summary of Available Benefits for Businesses
PB Mares Summary of Benefits for Individuals
CARES Act Section-by-Section of full bill
House Transportation Appropriations Summary
Official Congress FAQ
Senate Democratic Appropriations Summary
Senate Republican Appropriations Summary
Senate Democratic Summary
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Summary

H.R.266 - Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act

Enacted on April 24, 2020 (Public Law 116-139), this law increases funding for the Paycheck Protection and Emergency Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) Grants programs, as well as for hospitals and coronavirus testing.

You can find text of the legislation here. Summaries Summaries of certain sections of the law are below.

Paycheck Protection and EIDL
Hospitals and Testing
Small Business Support

H.R.7010 - The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act

Enacted on June 5, 2020 (Public Law 116-142), this law improves the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) by extending deadlines and providing more flexibility for borrowers who will seek loan forgiveness. Specifically, it:

  • Increases the minimum term from 2 years to 5 years for maturity of the loan;
  • Gives PPP recipients 24 weeks (or until the end of the year) to spend their funds, instead of only 8 weeks as previously mandated;
  • Extends the loan application period from June 30, to December 31, 2020;
  • Extends the deadline from June 30, to December 31, 2020, for the rehire exemption to forgiveness reduction;
  • Lowers the threshold required to be spent on payroll to receive loan forgiveness from 75 percent to 60 percent;
  • Allows recipients of loan forgiveness under the PPP to defer payroll taxes; and
  • Extends deferral of payments on PPP loans, allowing borrowers to defer payments until they receive compensation for forgiven amounts.
    • If a borrower does not apply for forgiveness within 10 months after the program expires, they must begin making payments.

The bill text can be found here; and a bill summary can be found here.

Pending Legislation

H.R.6800 - The Heroes Act

On May 12, 2020 House Democrats introduced a $3 trillion coronavirus response package called the Heroes Act. It is an extremely wide-ranging bill that builds on the tenets of and goes far beyond the CARES Act. It provides another round of stimulus checks for individuals, an extension of expanded unemployment insurance benefits, housing assistance, medical research funding, postal service funding, more small business loans, tax relief, massive amounts of aid for state and local governments, food assistance, broadband support, a COVID-19 Heroes Fund for essential workers, etc.

H.R.6800 was passed out of the House on May, 20, 2020, and now awaits Senate action, which is unlikely to be forthcoming soon.

The text of the bill can be found here. A 90-page summary of the bill can be found here. Here are links to two articles that provide broad, but shorter overviews of the bill: Politico and Roll Call. The House Committee on Small Business has also issued an overview.