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Moving associations seek federal relief after Defense Department PCS stop order

The International Association of Movers (IAM) and the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) are jointly seeking federal financial relief from Congress after a March 14 Defense Department “stop movement order” that halted most permanent change-of-station moves amid the coronavirus outbreak, a press release stated.

Citing the advisory’s “devastating impact on the moving and storage industry,” the associations are seeking over $186 million in federal relief. The stop order remains in effect until May 11.

The amount — to be paid to currently approved DOD Personal Property Program (DP3) transportation service providers and approved non-temporary storage providers — constitutes 60 percent of total revenues obtained from their Defense Department contracts during the same period (March 16 through May 11) from last year, according to the IAM and AMSA.

If “relief is not granted, providers will suffer unprecedented economic losses due to the inability to service Department of Defense business," the release said.

The U.S. Transportation Command advisory directed moving companies “to take no action on scheduled pick-ups and pack-outs of household goods," while service members were instructed to work through their chain of command in seeking a waiver “to continue the relocation process.”

“There are typically 55,100 shipments moved from March through May. The average shipment count per week is roughly 6,000 shipments worldwide, this expands within peak season to an average of 9,500 shipments per week,” said John Becker, AMSA interim president, in an emailed statement. “If the stop movement stays in place, small companies that provide service at the curb could go out of business. This result would create a drastic capacity decrease for this summer and for the entire household goods (HHG) industry moving forward.”

“It is our hope that financial relief will be delivered very quickly, ensuring that small businesses stay in business supporting the DoD, the military and service members during the 2020 Peak Season Permanent Change of Station process,” Becker added.

“Household good providers have reserved their capacity in anticipation for these shipments and are now left with no business for the suspension period,” the release added. “It is likely and estimated that entities will go out of business or enact severe layoffs.”

A U.S. Navy sailor assigned to a Naples command hundreds of miles south of Lombardy also tested positive for the virus. (Andrew Medichini/AP)
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Effective Friday, all troops, military civilian employees and family members traveling to or from locations with widespread transmission of the illness, designated “Warning Level 3” (which at the moment include Italy, South Korea and China) will “stop movement” for the next 60 days.

IAM consists of over 2,000 member companies, and AMSA conducts lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill on behalf of the moving and logistics industry. According to the AMSA, nearly one-quarter of “of all interstate moves handled by professional movers each year” comes from the federal government — with the majority related to Defense Department personnel moves.

In a letter to House of Representatives leadership, the associations said “DoD’s Defense Personal Property Program (DP3) represent roughly 20 percent of all moves globally," with the halt order having “a massive impact on the future financial viability, and structural capacity of the household goods moving industry.”

Officials from the associations noted that U.S. companies were “getting ready to enter ‘peak moving’ season, the timeframe when nearly 80 percent of all household goods moves occur.”

A companion letter was also sent to United States Senate leadership.

In the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Pentagon previously announced a total domestic travel ban for all troops, civilian personnel and their families until May 11. That announcement came just days after Pentagon officials announced severe restrictions on overseas travel for all defense employees, uniformed and civilians.

The new rules covered permanent change of station (PCS) moves and temporary duty (TDY) travel, suspending service members and their families in limbo.

Members of all four services found themselves relying on emergency relief funds and unit-by-unit authorizations of per diem to cover their costs while they wait, including troops and families who have packed up their lives, checked out of housing and were preparing to board planes to their new duty stations now suspended in place, Military Times previously reported.

The requested federal financial relief would be in additional to ongoing discussions between Congressional leadership and the Trump Administration regarding the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to AMSA’s website, their members may qualify for low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

The Treasury Department said Wednesday it wants to dedicate $500 billion to start issuing direct payments to Americans by early next month as the centerpiece of a $1 trillion plan to stabilize the economy as the coronavirus epidemic threatens a body slam to taxpayers and businesses.

Wednesday’s legislation would speed the delivery of testing for the virus and provide paid sick leave to workers, but the focus in Washington has already moved to development of a far, far larger response bill that would inject hundreds of billions of dollars into the faltering economy, provide relief to shuttered businesses, and help keep airlines from going under.

This story contains information from the Associated Press.

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