The $900 billion coronavirus fiscal stimulus bill passed Monday by the House and Senate has boosted optimism for continued economic recovery in the transportation sector, if President Trump signs it during his remaining weeks in office as expected.
Logistics providers have widely avoided the worst impacts of store closures and job losses seen in many professions, thanks to spikes in demand for critical products like food and cleaning supplies, and a rebound in retail restocking after widespread shutdowns. But the stimulus bill was widely seen by economists as critical fuel for adding momentum to the nation’s broader erratic recovery from the pandemic-induced economic recession.
The money would also be important for the survival of certain transportation businesses that have suffered deep losses from coronavirus shutdowns and travel freezes, such as commercial airlines and transit providers.
One crucial part of the bill is $284 billion in funding for a “second draw” of payroll loans, according to an analysis by the Indianapolis-based transportation law firm Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary. Small businesses that have no more than 300 employees and can show they have experienced a 25% or greater reduction in gross revenues in 2020 are eligible for those funds.
Likewise, the bill includes a provision that companies may deduct eligible business expenses from their taxes, even if they were paid for with loans eventually forgiven through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a provision of the previous stimulus bill, the the $1.7 trillion CARES Act passed in March. The law also allows businesses to spend their PPP funds on items such as essential preexisting supplier costs, expenditures on workers’ personal protective equipment (PPE), and certain operations expenditures.
The funding was part of a larger bill including annual government funding for the remainder of the fiscal year, marking a legislative success that is leading some lawmakers to start planning for a third stimulus bill to follow in the opening months of the Biden Administration.
“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,” U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said in a release. “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.”
Other logistics highlights of the bill include:
The industry group American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) echoed DeFazio’s position, saying the bill was a good start but calling for more action in 2021. “With the extension of the paycheck protection program and new unemployment benefits, the stimulus deal helps American businesses and American families when we need it most,” AAFA President and CEO Steve Lamar said in a release. “COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our world and created an economic crisis unlike any previous. While this new bill provides essential aid, it is only a down payment on what the American economy needs to make it to the other side. The job is not done, and more work will be needed in 2021.”