- The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law Friday, will provide part of its $2.2 trillion in federal funds to assist trucking businesses and provide liquidity while many shippers slow down or shutter for the next several weeks.
- According to the National Small Business Association, the bill creates the Paycheck Protection Program, a nearly $350 billion program to provide eight weeks of cash-flow assistance to small businesses through 100% federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during the COVID-19 emergency.
- The American Trucking Associations (ATA) said in a press release the bill also directs the Small Business Administration (SBA) to use its Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs), while also giving the SBA more flexibility to process and disperse small loans. The bill requires the SBA to pay all principal, interest and fees on all existing SBA loan products for a period of up to six months.
The CARES Act supplements concessions the U.S. Department of Transportation and many states have made on HOS and seasonal weight limits. But in the large stimulus bill, it was the liquidity that ATA and the NSBA wanted for their members, who fear a tightening of credit and a loss of business during the COVID-19 crisis.
The CARES Act also assists transport companies struggling to meet payroll during the pandemic. The NSBA said if employers maintain their payroll, the loans would largely be forgiven, which would help workers remain employed and affected small businesses and the economy "to quickly snap-back after the crisis." The CARES Act allows the Paycheck Protection Program to cover payroll costs, paid sick leave, supply chain disruptions, employee salaries, health insurance premiums, mortgage payments and other debt obligations to provide immediate access to capital for small businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19.
"It’s important for our nation’s supply chain that trucking has access to liquidity, so we can keep our trucks on the road — and not on the sales lot," said Chris Spear, ATA president and CEO, in the release. "Truckers don’t have the option to telework, and they’re not asking for a handout. But they are asking for liquidity and the necessary bridge to keep trucks moving as America recovers from this crisis."
Broken down by groups and businesses, the plurality of the bill's relief goes to individuals, according to NPR. Individuals can expect to get $560 billion in relief payments, unemployment payments and other assistance. Big corporations can expect to get $500 billion, while smaller businesses will get $377 billion, NPR estimates. State and local governments will get $339.8 billion and public-health programs will get $153.5 billion. Education systems and safety-net programs will get $69.7 billion.