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House Democrats' draft coronavirus relief legislation includes $15B for U.S. airlines

House Democrats'draft legislationfor the next coronavirus relief package includes $15 billion for U.S. airlines, a contrast fromPresident Biden’s original $1.9 trillion proposal, which included no funds for airlines.

The $15 billion will go to extending the Payroll Support Program (PSP) for airline workers through Sept. 30, giving $14 billion to support workers of air carriers and $1 billion for workers of eligible contractors.

The program has already received $40 billion from Congress — $25 billion in the spring CARES Act and $15 billion in the December stimulus package — though those funds are set to expire on April 1. Airlines have warned that tens of thousands of employees could be furloughed without an extension.

The House Financial Services Committee included the PSP extension in its measure, which it plans to mark up on Wednesday.

The funds for airlines are part of a larger transportation proposal put forth by Democrats. A measure from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee includes $50 billion for a disaster relief fund, $30 billion for transit agencies, $8 billion for airports, $3 billion for aerospace manufacturing and $1.5 billion for Amtrak.

“This plan can make a real difference to people’s lives. Amtrak will be able to recall workers and restore long-distance service. Small and minority-owned businesses will be able to keep the lights on at airports around the country. Tens of thousands of airline workers won’t fear losing their paycheck and benefits in a matter of weeks,” Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said in a statement.

He added, “Buses and trains can keep running and operators will be protected with [personal protective equipment]. We can replenish our nation’s Disaster Relief Fund — the list goes on.”

The $8 billion for airports would be made available to prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus. The $30 billion for transit agencies is for operating expenses to respond to the public health emergency.

The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee plan also includes $3 billion to protect aviation manufacturing jobs by providing grants for up to 25 percent of an employer’s U.S. workforce.

That measure will also be marked up on Wednesday. Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, called the Democrats’ plan a “union-made jobs plan.”

“It maintains paychecks, healthcare, pension/retirement, social security contributions, and everyone in the program continues to pay taxes and spend into the economy,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.

She added, “PSP is #WorkersFirst, but Congress has also caught on that it puts the worst corporate practices in check with a ban on stock buybacks and a cap on executive compensation long after the relief period ends. The public loves that too.”

This article originally appeared on The Hill

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