The Secretary may provide direct loans and loan guarantees to State and local governments, government sponsored authorities and corporations, railroads, and joint ventures that include at least 1 railroad.
Direct loans and loan guarantees under this section shall be used to—
(A) acquire, improve, or rehabilitate intermodal or rail equipment or facilities, including track, components of track, bridges, yards, buildings, and shops;
(B) refinance outstanding debt incurred for the purposes described in subparagraph (A); or
(C) develop or establish new intermodal or railroad facilities.
Direct loans and loan guarantees under this section shall not be used for railroad operating expenses.
In granting applications for direct loans or guaranteed loans under this section, the Secretary shall give priority to projects that—
(1) enhance public safety;
(2) enhance the environment;
(3) promote economic development;
(4) enable United States companies to be more competitive in international markets;
(5) are endorsed by the plans prepared under section 135 of title 23 by the State or States in which they are located; or
(6) preserve or enhance rail or intermodal service to small communities or rural areas.
The aggregate unpaid principal amounts of obligations under direct loans and loan guarantees made under this section shall not exceed $3,500,000,000 at any one time. Of this amount, not less than $1,000,000,000 shall be available solely for projects primarily benefiting freight railroads other than Class I carriers.
The Secretary shall require interest to be paid on a direct loan made under this section at a rate not less than that necessary to recover the cost of making the loan.
The Secretary shall not make a loan guarantee under this section if the interest rate for the loan exceeds that which the Secretary determines to be reasonable, taking into consideration the prevailing interest rates and customary fees incurred under similar obligations in the private capital market.
In lieu of or in combination with appropriations of budget authority to cover the costs of direct loans and loan guarantees as required under section 661c(b)(1) of title 2, the Secretary may accept on behalf of an applicant for assistance under this section a commitment from a non-Federal source to fund in whole or in part credit risk premiums with respect to the loan that is the subject of the application. In no event shall the aggregate of appropriations of budget authority and credit risk premiums described in this paragraph with respect to a direct loan or loan guarantee be less than the cost of that direct loan or loan guarantee.
The Secretary shall determine the amount required for credit risk premiums under this subsection on the basis of—
(A) the circumstances of the applicant, including the amount of collateral offered;
(B) the proposed schedule of loan disbursements;
(C) historical data on the repayment history of similar borrowers;
(D) consultation with the Congressional Budget Office; and
(E) any other factors the Secretary considers relevant.
Credit risk premiums under this subsection shall be paid to the Secretary before the disbursement of loan amounts.
In order to maintain sufficient balances of credit risk premiums to adequately protect the Federal Government from risk of default, while minimizing the length of time the Government retains possession of those balances, the Secretary shall establish cohorts of loans. When all obligations attached to a cohort of loans have been satisfied, credit risk premiums paid for the cohort, and interest accrued thereon, which were not used to mitigate losses shall be returned to the original source on a pro rata basis.
The Secretary shall not make a direct loan or loan guarantee under this section unless the Secretary has made a finding in writing that—
(1) repayment of the obligation is required to be made within a term of not more than 25 years from the date of its execution;
(2) the direct loan or loan guarantee is justified by the present and probable future demand for rail services or intermodal facilities;
(3) the applicant has given reasonable assurances that the facilities or equipment to be acquired, rehabilitated, improved, developed, or established with the proceeds of the obligation will be economically and efficiently utilized;
(4) the obligation can reasonably be repaid, using an appropriate combination of credit risk premiums and collateral offered by the applicant to protect the Federal Government; and
(5) the purposes of the direct loan or loan guarantee are consistent with subsection (b) of this section.
The Secretary shall, before granting assistance under this section, require the applicant to agree to such terms and conditions as are sufficient, in the judgment of the Secretary, to ensure that, as long as any principal or interest is due and payable on such obligation, the applicant, and any railroad or railroad partner for whose benefit the assistance is intended—
(1) will not use any funds or assets from railroad or intermodal operations for purposes not related to such operations, if such use would impair the ability of the applicant, railroad, or railroad partner to provide rail or intermodal services in an efficient and economic manner, or would adversely affect the ability of the applicant, railroad, or railroad partner to perform any obligation entered into by the applicant under this section;
(2) will, consistent with its capital resources, maintain its capital program, equipment, facilities, and operations on a continuing basis; and
(3) will not make any discretionary dividend payments that unreasonably conflict with the purposes stated in subsection (b) of this section.
(Pub. L. 94–210, title V, §502, as added Pub. L. 105–178, title VII, §7203(a)(1), June 9, 1998, 112 Stat. 473.)
A prior section 822, Pub. L. 94–210, title V, §502, Feb. 5, 1976, 90 Stat. 67; Pub. L. 95–620, title VIII, §803(c)(2)–(4), Nov. 9, 1978, 92 Stat. 3347, related to the Rail Fund, prior to repeal by Pub. L. 105–178, title VII, §7203(a)(1), June 9, 1998, 112 Stat. 471.
This section is referred to in section 823 of this title.