This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday agreed to its portion of the Biden Administration’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, including additional funding for airports and the creation of a payroll support program for aerospace workers.
The T&I Committee’s portion encompassed a $100 billion relief plan for multiple modes of transportation. This would provide an extra $8 billion in airport aid that would be available through 2024, including another $100 million for general aviation and non-primary commercial airports. Further, $800 million would be set aside for airport concessionaires. Additionally, a measure would set aside $3 billion for a payroll support program to help cover salaries of aerospace manufacturing workers at risk of being furloughed or who were furloughed. The support would cover six-month periods.
“I am pleased this bill includes much-needed relief to support aviation workers and promote a strong economic recovery for U.S. aviation and aerospace,” said Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Washington), a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and chairman of the aviation subcommittee. Larsen urged his colleagues to support the relief, adding, “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, an estimated 100,000 aerospace manufacturing workers nationwide have lost their jobs and 220,000 additional jobs are at risk of furlough.”
The Aerospace Industries Association lauded the inclusion of aerospace workers relief. “This payroll support program will make it possible for manufacturers to retain or rehire thousands of hard-working Americans,” said AIA president and CEO Eric Fanning. “By protecting this vital workforce, we can help ensure the recovery and continued success of an industry that is critical to our nation’s economy and security.”
However, the eight-hour markup session to consider the plan drew complaints from Republican leaders on the committee, who noted that the panel failed to accept a single amendment offered from its side of the aisle.
The package will be joined with a series of other targeted plans making their way through the various House committees. This includes the House Financial Services Committee package that would provide another $14 billion for air carrier payroll support and $1 billion for their contractors. Legislators hope to have the entire package passed and on the President’s desk by mid-March.