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Pelosi calls on airlines to hold off on furloughs, says agreement on relief is imminent

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP increasingly balks at calling Jan. 6 an insurrection Overnight Energy: Lake Mead's decline points to scary water future in West | White House leads opposition to raising gas tax | Biden taps ex-New Mexico lawmaker for USDA post Trump against boycotting Beijing Olympics in 2022 MORE (D-Calif.) called Friday for airlines to hold off on furloughs, indicating that an agreement on more coronavirus relief for the industry is coming soon. 

“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,” the Speaker said in a statement the day after the House passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid package that has been rejected by Republicans in the Senate and White House.

Pelosi said that Congress will either enact House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioNewest Boeing 737 Max takes first test flight FAA official defends SpaceX despite unauthorized December launch High-speed rail getting last minute push in Congress MORE’s (D-Ore.) stand-alone legislation that assists the airlines or relief will come in the form of a negotiated bill. She added both options would extend the Payroll Support Program (PSP) by six months. 

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“This initiative is focused solely on the workers, keeping them on the payroll so these workers maintain their critical training and certification requirements unique to their industry,” Pelosi said. “As relief for airline workers is being advanced, the airline industry must delay these devastating job cuts.” 

PSP, which allocated $25 billion in aid for airlines, was part of the massive $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in March. As a condition for accepting the relief, it prohibited airlines from laying off employees until Oct. 1.

Airlines have called for another $25 billion extending the PSP to stave off layoffs until at least April. 

On Wednesday, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker told employees that the process of furloughing 19,000 employees has started, and United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby told employees they are moving forward with furloughing about 13,000.

Both CEOs, though, left the door open to reversing the furlough process if a deal is reached in the coming days. 

House Democrats' $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package included the $25 billion for airlines, and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says MORE has endorsed extending the PSP. He called on Congress this week to do so as part of broader talks over a fifth coronavirus relief bill.