- The Washington Times - Friday, October 2, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on airline companies to hold off on massive layoffs and furloughs Friday as the House prepares “imminent” coronavirus relief for their workers.

“The massive furloughs and firings of America’s airline workers jeopardize the livelihoods of tens of thousands and threaten to accelerate the devastating economic crisis facing our nation. Today, I am calling upon the airlines to delay their devastating job cuts as relief for airline workers is being advanced in Congress,” Mrs. Pelosi said in a statement. “As relief for airline workers is being advanced, the airline industry must delay these devastating job cuts.”

She said the House will either vote on stand-alone legislation or include relief by extending the Payroll Support Program for another six months in a more comprehensive bill.

House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, Oregon Democrat, moved to push through the payroll extension in a stand-alone bill via unanimous consent, but it was blocked by Republicans on the House floor.

Mrs. Pelosi slammed the GOP after the motion failed.

“Tens of thousands of airline workers stand on the brink of being fired, losing their certification requirements and seeing their livelihoods and financial security ripped away. Today, Democrats provided a path forward to avert catastrophe for these workers,” she said in a statement. “Again and again, Democrats offer legislation to save lives and livelihoods, only to be met by more Republican obstruction. Either Republicans are not serious about meeting the staggering health and economic challenge facing our nation, or they do not care.”

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin have been negotiating throughout the week on coronavirus relief, but as of Friday afternoon, remained far apart on several key areas.

American Airlines sent furlough notices to 19,000 employees and United Airlines sent notices to more than 13,000 workers as the industry continues to struggle from the pandemic. American CEO Doug Parker said the furloughs would be reversed if Washington approves another relief package.

The CARES Act approved in March gave the airline industry $25 billion, provided that no workers were furloughed before Oct. 1. The airlines have asked for another $25 billion to keep workers paid through March.

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