Treasury Secretary Signals Support for Airline Bailouts; Defends Stimulus Checks

As airlines face further layoffs and furloughs, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has come out in support of additional government stimulus for U.S. airlines. 

On Dec. 8, Congress introduced a bipartisan proposal extending $17 billion to airlines for payroll support for the next four months. Mnuchin signaled his support, remarking, “I think that would be very meaningful in terms of employment and saving the industry.”

For months, air carriers have lobbied both Congress and the executive branch to provide additional funding after previous coronavirus relief measures expired in October. 

Southwest announced that layoffs would be an option for the first time earlier this week. United and American Airlines furloughed over 30,000 employees in October after the expiration of employment protection benefits. 

Mnuchin also defended the Trump administration’s recent efforts to send another round of stimulus checks without further enhancing unemployment benefits. 

“We obviously want to get people back to work,” said Mnuchin. “By sending out checks, we’re putting money into the economy for people. This will have the impact of creating demand, which will have the impact of creating jobs. We want people to get their jobs back.” 

Mnuchin is in negotiations with congressional Democrats and Republicans. Mnuchid offered $600 one-time payments to individuals and an extension of unemployment benefits without further enhancements, among other benefits, in a $916 billion proposal. 

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