As early as this week, the U.S. Congress could decide the fate and survival of American airline jobs, when a possible extension of the CARES Act could be approved. Failure by lawmakers to act could destroy the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the airline industry.
Airline labor-unions as well as airline executives have been working together. They have been pushing very hard for an extension to the payroll protection provision of the coronavirus-imposed CARES Act, which expires on September 30. Barring an extension airline workers can expect mass-layoffs and furloughs to take place starting October 1.
The request for a six-month extension calls for a guarantee to keep airline employees employed until March 31, 2021
Senate Republicans take on the fate of U.S. airline jobs and the U.S. airline industry
Some Senate Republicans are backing the extension of the $25 billion payroll assistance program for U.S. airlines.
A Republican letter was initiated by Senator Cory Gardner and shown to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. A copy was given to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
This was the first public indication of strong support in the Republican-led Senate for additional emergency funding for U.S. airlines.
“With air travel anticipated to remain low in the near future, Congress should also consider provisions to support and provide flexibility for businesses across the aviation industry similarly impacted, such as airport concessionaires and aviation manufacturing,”
the letter said.
Who is on board?
The Senators who signed the letter indicated they are backing a new six-month extension of the $25 billion payroll support programin order “to avoid furloughs and further support those workers.”
These are the Senators who signed the letter:
- Marco Rubio,
- Roger Wicker,
- James Inhofe,
- James Risch,
- John Cornyn,
- Todd Young,
- Susan Collins,
- Martha McSally, and
- Shelley Moore Capito.
An extension was already in the House (Democrats) version of the bill, but it was absent from the original Senate (Republican) bill. However, in a bipartisan fashion, the Senate used the House bill as a template.
On July 27, a majority of the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter. At that time the politicians called for the six-month extension for the payroll aid program. The argument pointed out that the extension was crucial to keeping hundreds of thousands of aviation workers employed through March 31, 2021.
195 Democrats and 28 Republicans signed the letter.
At this time, indications are that it’s looking more likely that there will be some extension of the CARES Act, but the details are still unclear.
The expiring payroll protection clause of the current CARES Act
Congress awarded $25 billion in payroll help to U.S. passenger airlines in March.
- $4 billion was allocated for cargo carriers, and
- $3 billion was set aside for airport contractors.
Most of these bailout funds do not have to be paid back.
In addition, Congress approved a separate $25 billion in low-cost loan-program for passenger airlines. Some airlines have chosen not to opt for these loans.
The fate of U.S. airline jobs plus the very continued existence of U.S. airlines are in the hands of our lawmakers. Let’s hope the very lawmakers we elected will recognize the importance of preserving the important U.S. infrastructure that airlines represent for the U.S.
Featured Image: Los Angeles Airport (LAX) aerial photography. Photo: CaptainJetson.com