By Lauren Schapker, vice president, legislative affairs, ARTBA 

The Senate March 18 passed 90-8 emergency relief legislation to address the economic impacts from the coronavirus pandemic. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), overwhelmingly approved by the House March 14, will quickly be signed into law by President Trump.

Prior to the vote, ARTBA sent a March 17 letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) voicing the membership’s concerns about the potential impact of the bill’s sick leave provisions on their business operations.

The FFCRA is the second of a three-part emergency legislative package. Trump March 6 signed “Phase 1” legislation, which provides $8.5 billion for emergency response and support for the Centers for Disease Control.

A “Phase 3” economic assistance package is being developed in the Senate in consultation with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. His proposed outline includes:

  • Authorization of a new $300 billion small business loan program with 100 percent loan guarantees, in response to concerns addressed in FFCRA;
  • Financial support for airlines and other “severely distressed” sectors of the economy; and
  • Direct payments to individual taxpayers in multiple installments.

Senators, including Environment & Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), are also discussing other provisions, including aid for public transit, airports and possible provisions to reauthorize the FAST Act surface transportation law.

Given the scope, the third package could total over $1 trillion. McConnell promised to address concerns of small businesses.  He said the Senate plans to move quickly and stay in session until the bill is completed.

ARTBA will continue to provide you with information as events warrant.