Bus Covid Relief Set for Senate Vote After ‘Catastrophic Losses’

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Senators, after months of lobbying, are poised to consider aid to bus companies that lost money during the pandemic.

Motorcoaches, school buses, and ferries would be eligible for an additional $2 billion in pandemic relief under legislation the Senate is planning to take up this week, according to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). The measure (S. 4008) would help restaurants and small businesses that suffered Covid-19-related losses.

The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), is slated for a procedural vote Thursday, a step that will tee up a later vote on final passage. A similar version (H.R. 3807), which the House passed last month, omitted money for motorcoaches.

BGOV Bill Summary: Expanded H.R. 3807, Restaurant, Small Biz Aid

Cardin said he thinks senators will be able to resolve any differences with the House, but is still concerned about getting the needed 60 votes to advance it in the Senate. “That is unclear,” he said.

Motorcoach, school bus, and certain maritime companies previously received $2 billion from the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act, enacted as part of a fiscal 2021 funding law. It took months for companies to be able to apply for the funds, and many say more is still needed to make up for continued losses.

Bus Pandemic Relief Fund Access to Open After Monthslong Delay

The bus industry lost 82.6% of its business in 2020 because of the pandemic and another 62% in 2021, according to the American Bus Association.

“The motorcoach industry suffered catastrophic losses because of the COVID pandemic, and we are having trouble replacing employees we had to furlough,” Peter Pantuso, president and CEO of the group, said in an email Wednesday. “For us, the pandemic is not over — we still need help.”

Cardin said last month that motorcoach aid has broad support. “Everybody felt they should be included,” he told Bloomberg Government in April.

With assistance from Zach C. Cohen

To contact the reporter on this story: Lillianna Byington in Washington at lbyington@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah Babbage at sbabbage@bgov.com; Robin Meszoly at rmeszoly@bgov.com

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