House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Democrats would not support a standalone bill to fund airline relief unless the Trump administration agreed to her demands for a comprehensive relief package. The package, designed by Democrats, contains spending equal to nearly half the pre-pandemic federal budget.
Airlines have said without further relief funding they will have to furlough thousands of workers because of a lack of passenger volume. “There is not going to be any standalone bill unless there is a bigger bill and it can be part of that, or it could be in addition to it,” Pelosi said at a press conference.
Just a week ago, House Democrats were pushing for a standalone relief bill for airlines. When that bill failed to pass by unanimous consent, Democrats lashed out at Republicans. “The Republican majority killed this legislation, plain and simple. If they had just agreed, tens of thousands of workers for the airlines — flight attendants, they don’t get paid a heck of a lot of money, pilots, yeah they do well, mechanics, gate agents — tens of thousands of those people have been furloughed as of yesterday,” House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said.
Pelosi demanded that airlines put layoff plans on hold and vowed to pass relief. “As relief for airline workers is being advanced, the airline industry must delay these devastating job cuts,” Pelosi said in a statement last week.
Pelosi’s surprise reversal appeared to derail hopes for that aid. She was expected to talk with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin later Thursday about a standalone bill.
Many Democrats have urged Pelosi not to cut any deal with the president. Thursday’s turnaround on standalone airline legislation suggests that Pelosi has accepted this advice even if it means abandoning her promise to airline workers and moving to oppose legislation House Democrats supported just seven days ago.