White House Says Trump Can Use Executive Privilege to Avoid Massive Airline Layoffs

The White House today said President Donald Trump is considering using executive privilege to grant the airline industry additional funds for the Payroll Support Program to avoid massive layoffs.

Industry observers say that when the provisions of the original CARES Act in March expire at midnight on Sept. 30 – an agreement the airlines made to not furlough employees or cut their pay for six months in order to receive grants and loans – they expect there could be up to 70,000 people laid off.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Trump, who is generally in favor of the airlines receiving a second round of aid, is weighing executive action.

“If Congress is not going to work, this president is going to get to work and solve some problems. So hopefully, we can help out the airlines and keep some of those employees from being furloughed,” Meadows said in an interview with Politico.

He suggested, however, that assistance would require legislative action, saying: “It would take a CARES package, I believe, to do it,” he added.

So far, Congress has been unable to come to an agreement on a second stimulus package for millions affected financially by COVID -19.

U.S. airlines received $25 billion in payroll aid under the original CARES Act; they are seeking another $25 billion to keep workers employed through March of 2021 when they hope travel demand will be stronger.

In a statement, American Airlines – which said a day ago it would be laying off 19,000 workers come Oct. 1 – said it will “continue to work with the administration and our bipartisan supporters in Congress and hope to come to a resolution in a timely fashion.”

But Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said on “Executive orders will not save our jobs. It will definitely take Congress acting to keep all of the job requirements in place.”

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