Chair DeFazio Applauds New Round of Aid for the Hard-Hit Transportation Sector in Omnibus and COVID Relief Legislation
The wide-ranging package includes key pieces of legislation championed by Chair DeFazio, from aircraft certification reform to the Water Resources Development Act, and more
Washington, DC – Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) applauded final passage of a wide-ranging spending bill that includes much-needed aid for the transportation sector, including an extension of the highly-successful Payroll Support Program for aviation employees, as well as key provisions developed by the Committee, including aviation safety legislation, a pipeline safety bill, and the Water Resources Development Act of 2020.
“By passing this legislation, Congress is taking an important step toward addressing the public health crisis and providing much-needed support to transportation workers and systems across the country that are on the frontlines of this pandemic,” Chair DeFazio said. “But make no mistake, the bill is not a panacea, and Congress must do more to respond to the needs of families and communities that are hurting amid this public health and economic crisis, including stimulus measures like those that could put millions of people back to work rebuilding our Nation’s infrastructure. I look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration in the new year to do just that.”
Transportation-related items in the omnibus, including the COVID-19 relief deal, include:
- $14 billion for transit, including $50 million for paratransit providers.
- $10 billion for state transportation departments and local transportation agencies. Funds are available to replace amounts lost as a result of the coronavirus for preventive maintenance, routine maintenance, operations, and personnel costs and may also support tolling agencies and ferry systems.
- $1 billion for Amtrak for operations and to prevent further employee furloughs. Requires Amtrak to recall workers as passenger rail service is restored, bars Amtrak from replacing any furloughed workers with contractors, and prevents further reductions in long-distance rail service.
- $2 billion for motorcoach and bus operators, school bus companies, and U.S. flag passenger vessel operators, such as passenger ferries.
- $2 billion for airports to retain personnel and continue operations; includes relief for retailers at the airport (i.e. concessionaires).
- $15 billion to extend the Payroll Support Program for aviation employees through March 31, 2021, a workers-first program that puts tens of thousands of workers back on the payroll with benefits, while prohibiting the use of funds for stock buybacks or executive compensation. Requires mandatory recall of involuntarily furloughed workers and backpay for those workers to the date of the bill’s passage.
- $1 billion in payroll pass-through grants for workers for airline contractors, with mandatory recalls of involuntarily furloughed workers and back pay for those workers to the date of the bill’s passage.
- $2 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, as well as some assistance for individuals and households to cover funeral expenses for deaths from COVID-19.
- The Water Resources Development Act of 2020, legislation essential to our country’s ports, harbors, and inland waterways, as well as to ecosystem restoration and flood mitigation; the WRDA Act of 2020 also finally unlocks the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, freeing up to billions of dollars of already-collected fees to be used for operations and maintenance of the country’s ports.
- The Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2020, bipartisan legislation to help ensure that the millions of miles of pipelines in the U.S. are safe, reliable, and environmentally-sound; also includes provisions to require leak detection and repair programs to reduce methane pollution, as well as resolves the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s bureaucratic inability to protect coastal waters and the Great Lakes as previously mandated by Congress.
- Continued assistance to rail workers to ensure they have access to the same enhanced unemployment benefits as other workers.
- The Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act, bipartisan legislation to strengthen the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) aircraft certification process in the wake of the Boeing 737 MAX tragedies.
The full text of the legislative package can be found here.
A section-by-section summary can be found here.
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