Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said last week that airlines and restaurants both need the kind of financial help that only a second stimulus package can give.
It was a rare, tacit admission that both sides of the aisle needed to work in concert to make it happen to fight the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic..
On Monday, Congress took a step forward when Republican Senators introduced a bill that would give the airline industry more than $28 billion in additional aid, a proposal that comes just 10 days before the provisions of the precious stimulus package expire.
When airlines accepted the $32 billion in grants and loans from the CARES Act in March, they agreed not to cut pay or lay off any employees for six months. But the rebound for the industry hasn’t been as quick as many had hoped, and airlines are struggling with a demand for air travel hovering at around 70-75 percent less than what it was at this time last year.
Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, chairman of the Commerce Committee, and Maine Sen. Susan Collins, chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees transportation, both introduced the legislation. The new bill would protect jobs until the end of next March.
“We’re grateful for the continued show of broad, bipartisan support in Congress for our team members and our industry, and we appreciate the willingness of these senators to take action to avoid imminent furloughs and air service cuts when the Payroll Support Program expires next week,” American Airlines said in a written statement to CNBC.
Airline CEOs and labor unions have lobbied hard for an extension of the CARES Act, and President Trump has indicated several times that he is supportive of a second aid package for airlines.
The funds for the additional aid would come from $11 billion in new aid and more than $17 billion in funding and loans that went unused in the last bill, Wicker and Collins said in a statement.
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