Legislative Response

Congress has taken significant actions to address 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.

H.R.7010 - The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act of 2020:

On Friday, June 5, the President signed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (H.R.7010) into law. The bill improves the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) by extending deadlines and providing more flexibility for borrowers who will seek loan forgiveness. Specifically, the bill:

  • 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.

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.


Learn More

Coronavirus Legislation #1:

H.R.6074 - Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020: Became Public Law 116-123 on March 6, 2020.

The text of the legislation is here. A summary of the Legislation here.

Coronavirus Legislation #2:

H.R.6201 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Became Public Law 116-127 on March 18, 2020.

The Department of Labor has created a poster to be used to inform employees of the benefits of this action.

The text of the legislation is here. A helpful tax impact overview provided by the IRS is here. Below are several helpful summaries.

Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell Summary
Conner & Winters Employment Law Firm 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

Coronavirus Legislation #3:

H.R.748 - Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act: Became Public Law on March 27, 2020.

The bill text can be found here. Summaries of the bill text 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

Coronavirus Legislation #3.5:

H.R.266 - Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act: Became Public Law on April 24, 2020.

This bill 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 the bill text here; a summary of the paycheck protection and EIDL section here; and a summary of the hospitals and testing section here. A summary of Small Business Support provided in the bill by Senate Democrats is here.

If your railroad is eligible for PPP and hasn’t yet applied or applied but were stalled because the program had run out of money, ASLRRA urges you to move very quickly and apply again.

H.R.6800 - The Heroes Act:

On May 12, 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.