April 14, 2020

Chair DeFazio Statement on U.S. Treasury’s Newly-Announced Agreements That Will Save Hundreds of Thousands of U.S. Aviation Jobs

Washington, D.C. – Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) released the following statement after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced agreements with 10 air carriers that will use Congressionally-approved grants to keep an estimated 750,000 airline employees on the payroll through September. Chair DeFazio authored the payroll grants provision in the House legislation that was ultimately enacted as part of the CARES Act.

“Even though this process was neither easy nor perfect, it is critically important that in the end there are agreements in place that put workers and families first by keeping hundreds of thousands of airline employees— from flight crews to baggage handlers— on the payroll during this extremely tumultuous period for the U.S. economy. I strongly believe what Congress laid out in this provision of the CARES Act—to put workers first—should be the model for any industry-specific relief going forward. By ensuring Federal relief flows first to employee payroll and benefits, we can protect taxpayers and keep millions of U.S. workers on the job rolls and out of unemployment lines while helping air carriers of all sizes, including regional airlines on which small communities depend, survive the most serious and profound crisis in the history of aviation. The fact is, our country relies on a robust aviation system that not only allows people to get from Point A to Point B, but also moves important cargo, which could not be more critical than it is right now as states, territories, and local and tribal communities work to secure medical supplies from around the globe to aid in their response to COVID-19. As Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I am closely monitoring the next phase of these agreements. In particular, the U.S. Treasury still has critical work to do to get funds provided by Congress into the hands of airline contractors’ employees, often the lowest-paid employees in the aviation industry. I am 100 percent committed to using every tool available to conduct oversight and make sure we have in fact begun a new chapter in this country with legislation that puts every company’s most valuable asset, its front-line employees, first.”