House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called off talks for a standalone airline relief bill Thursday, dashing hopes that a narrow measure to support the airline industry could continue after President Donald Trump abruptly shot down overall stimulus talks earlier this week.
“There is no standalone bill without a bigger bill. There’s no bill,” the speaker said during her weekly press conference.
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have had several daily phone calls this week to discuss the viability of a standalone airline relief bill, but after barring his surrogates from holding any more stimulus negotiations, Trump tweeted that “The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support.”
It was not clear what the gap was between the two sides, but a Democratic measure put up for vote last Friday was opposed by Republicans and failed to pass. Republicans wanted details on how it would be paid for, a GOP aide said, pointing to a version of the bill introduced by Republicans that included an appropriation from Treasury and tapping unused CARES Act funds, while the Democratic measure didn’t include spending offsets.
Legacy carriers began furloughing tens of thousands of airline employees last Thursday when a key deadline expired. After taking $25 billion in Payroll Support Program funding authorized under the CARES act, the airlines weren’t allowed to furlough any employees until Oct 1, which assumed that the U.S. would have the coronavirus under control. However, travel demand remains at historic lows and airlines continue to burn through millions of dollars each day.
Airline executives have been lobbying for months for additional funding, saying that without the extra relief they will have no choice but to continue furloughs and cutbacks.
“We can’t continue to wait. If forced to, of course, we will indeed discontinue service