U.S. House panel approves US$42.5 billion for transportation

On a 39-25 vote, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has approved US$42.5 billion for transportation sectors, including US$8 billion to U.S. airports and concessionaires and US$3 billion for a temporary payroll support program for aerospace manufacturing, as part of a COVID-19 relief plan.

Airports and concessionaires had previously benefitted from US$12 billion in financial support. According to Reuters news agency, the House Financial Services Committee held a lengthy hearing Wednesday February 10, on its portion of the US$1.9 trillion package, including US$14 billion in payroll support for U.S. passenger airlines and US$1 billion for contractors, but delayed a final vote until Thursday, February 11.

Since March 2020, U.S. airlines have been provided with US$40 billion in payroll support. The additional US$14 billion to be voted for on today will see nearly 30,000 airline workers remain in work until September 30. The US$3 billion aerospace manufacturing program would provide a 50% government subsidy to cover pay, benefits and training for employees at risk of being furloughed or who were furloughed due to the pandemic.

“This plan takes another critical step toward preventing essential systems from collapsing under the weight of the pandemic and will help to keep millions of Americans out of unemployment lines,” said Representative Peter DeFazio, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee prior to Wednesday’s vote on the rescue package. President Joe Biden had proposed just US$20 billion for struggling U.S. transit agencies – with nothing allocated for airlines or airports.

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