By Lauren Schapker, vice president of legislative affairs, ARTBA
The House Oct. 1 voted 214-207 to approve $2.2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus legislation, called HEROES 2, that would provide state and local governments with $427 billion in aid. HEROES 2 is unlikely to receive a vote in the Senate given its price tag, which Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called “outlandish.”
In a departure from the $3-plus trillion plan the House advanced in May, this week’s proposal did not include direct aid for state departments of transportation (DOTs). The measure would, however, deliver $238 billion in relief to state governments, and DOTs would be eligible for those resources. The bill would also provide:
- $189 billion for county and local governments with flexibility to replace lost revenue;
- $32 billion for mass transit entities; and
- $13.5 billion to airports.
The House’s HEROES 2 bill was countered with a $1.6 trillion proposal from the White House that was purported to offer only $250 billion in state and local government aid. Negotiations between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin remain fluid.
With roughly a month until Election Day, time is short for an agreement to be reached. House members Oct. 2 left Washington, D.C., but were advised they may have to return for votes on a subsequent COVID-19 stimulus package.
ARTBA will continue to press Congress to provide dedicated aid to state DOTs and to increase investment in transportation programs as it negotiates FY 2021 spending bills.