By Lauren Schapker, vice president, legislative affairs, ARTBA 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) March 19 released “Phase 3” draft stimulus legislation called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide support to individuals, distressed businesses, and the health care system.

The legislation would address concerns raised by ARTBA about provisions enacted as part of the “Phase 2” stimulus legislation that requires employers to pay additional emergency sick and family medical leave. ARTBA sent a March 17 letter to Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) raising concerns that requiring small businesses to pay additional sick and family leave would jeopardize their viability.

The CARES Act, as drafted, would provide $300 billion in Small Business Interruption Loans to help offset the costs of payroll support, employee salaries, mortgage payments, utilities, among other activities. The loans would provide a bridge to the tax credits for small businesses that was passed in Phase 2 legislation.

Additional aspects of the CARES Act include:

  • $500 billion in direct payments to individuals and families;
  • $50 billion in loans and loan guarantees for passenger airlines;
  • $8 billion in loans and loan guarantees for cargo air carriers; and
  • $150 billion in loan guarantees for other economically distressed industries—no further details were provided as to which industries qualify.

Senate Republicans and Democrats say they will negotiate through the weekend. Leader McConnell indicated his preference for passage of the CARES Act by Monday, March 23. The House of Representatives remains on recess and will return when events warrant.

Key leaders in the House and Senate maintain support for including infrastructure in a future stimulus package. Timing on any future package is fluid, but not expected before the end of the month. The ARTBA co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition, in a March 19 letter, urged House and Senate leadership to include long-term investment in transportation infrastructure in a future package.

See ARTBA’s detailed summary of Phase 2 legislation called the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA). ARTBA also is updating a Coronavirus website, which we encourage members to monitor for updated information.