While the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is being felt in many different sectors, the transportation sector is one that has been hit the hardest. Due to concerns over the virus, many Americans have been limiting their travel, which means less business and fewer projects being completed. In an effort to provide assistance, a House of Representatives committee has voted to approve new relief funding.
On Wednesday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted 39-25 to approve $42.5 billion for the transportation industry and its workers as part of the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package. $30 billion will be for public transit agencies, $8 billion for airports, $3 billion for a temporary payroll assistance program for aerospace manufacturing, and $1.5 billion for Amtrak.
In contrast to the committee’s vote, President Biden had proposed only $20 billion for the transportation sector, along with no funding for airports or airliners. Previously, transit agencies received $39 billion in emergency assistance from Congress, with airports receiving $12 billion. During the voting, the committee rejected Republican amendments, such as one to shift $10 billion in funding to states for road and bridge construction.
As for airlines, the House Financial Services Committee held a lengthy hearing on Wednesday regarding $14 billion in payroll support for U.S. passenger airlines, along with $1 billion for contractors. However, the vote was delayed until Thursday, where it was approved 29-24. Since March 2020, airlines have been receiving $40 billion in payroll support. Additionally, there will be $3 billion put towards an aerospace manufacturing program, which would provide a 50% government subsidy to cover pay, benefits, and training for employees who are either at risk of being furloughed or have been furloughed due to the pandemic. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expects that the complete $1.9 trillion package will be finished by the end of the month.