Schumer pushes back on relief for airline industry

Bonnie Cash

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) is pushing back on President Trump’s anticipated request for economic relief for the airline industry, which has been hit hard by the spread of coronavirus and waves of flight cancellations.

U.S. airlines on Monday requested a $50 billion bailout to make up for the precipitous drop in air travel amid the coronavirus emergency. But Democrats are saying that priority should be placed on ordinary Americans who miss work instead of multibillion-dollar companies. 

“If we’re going to follow up the House bill with another major economic stimulus package, which we must, our major focus cannot be based on bailing out airlines, cruises and other industries,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “We must first prioritize economic solutions that are focused on workers and their families.” 

Schumer urged Congress to instead focus on legislation to “fix our broken unemployment system,” shore up the public health system and get money to small- and medium-sized businesses facing a shortage of cash. 

“Let’s remember, corporations are not people. People are people,” he said. 

Other Democrats have also expressed skepticism about bailing out the airlines.

“We need to focus this on the people who are impacted,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). “I think you focus on the people who are unemployed then you take a look at the airlines.” 

“If they’re not domiciled in this country, we don’t bail them out,” he added.

Trump at a press briefing Tuesday doubled down on his request to help the airlines. 

“The airline industry will be in great shape,” Trump pledged.

“We’re going big,” he later added. “We don’t want airlines going out of business. We don’t want people losing their jobs and not having money to live.” 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters Tuesday morning that the airlines are in danger of grinding to a halt and said “we want to maintain for critical travel the right to have domestic travel.” 

Tags Chuck Schumer Coronavirus Donald Trump Jon Tester Steven Mnuchin

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