The White House open to executive action to keep airlines from furloughing employees

  • White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said the White House was prepared to take additional executive action to keep airlines from furloughing thousands of workers in early October.
  • “So hopefully we can help out the airlines and keep some of those employees from being furloughed,” Meadows said in a Politico Live interview on Wednesday.
  • It remained unclear what authority the administration could draw from as well as what the funding mechanism would be.
  • Airlines received $50 billion in bailout funds under an economic relief package in March, but they’ve exhausted the money amid a steep fall in travel.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A top Trump administration official said on Wednesday the White House was prepared to take additional executive actions to keep airlines from furloughing employees.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said in a Politico Live interview the option was on the table if lawmakers don’t design and pass another economic relief package.

“We’ve got four executive actions that actually the president took, we’re going to take a few others,” Meadows said. “Because if Congress is not going to work, this president is going to get to work and solve some problems. So hopefully we can help out the airlines and keep some of those employees from being furloughed.”

Meadows’ comments come a day after American Airlines announced it would furlough 19,000 workers on October 1 unless the federal government provided significantly more relief funds. Delta also said 1,900 pilots would be furloughed absent additional aid.

It’s not immediately clear what authority the White House could draw from to target federal aid to a specific industry, nor where federal funding would come from. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, wrote on Twitter that Congress needed to step in with additional legislation, and executive orders wouldn’t provide enough aid to shore up battered airlines.

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Under the CARES Act in March, airlines received $50 billion in bailout funds. Half of the aid was conditioned on keeping workers employed through Sept. 30. But the ongoing pandemic has decimated the industry, prompting a steep fall in airline travel and revenues.

Negotiations over another stimulus package between the White House and top congressional Democrats collapsed earlier this month amid fierce disagreements over the amount of federal spending needed to keep the economy afloat.

It led President Donald Trump to sign executive actions to bolster aid to the unemployed as well as enact a payroll-tax holiday. However, the orders have yielded limited relief.

States are slowly implementing a $300 boost in unemployment benefits. Many businesses are also signaling they would keep withholding payroll taxes from workers.

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