Thousands of airline workers get furlough notices as Congress, White House battle over federal relief funds
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - House Democrats passed a pared down $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill late Thursday by a vote of 214-207 with no support from House Republicans.
The vote came after a day of negotiations between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin brought reports of some progress, but they failed to reach a deal.
That leaves little hope for 32,000 airline industry workers facing immediate furloughs as the $25 billion in federal relief funds for airlines expired October 1st.
Sanford Smith of San Francisco says he got a letter last week, warning that Thursday would be his last day of work as a flight attendant with American Airlines due to furloughs.
"You're never quite prepared. I thought ok, I got it. And I walked into the shower and I got into the shower...I thought I was going to be okay, and I burst into tears," said Sanford Smith, who has been an American Airlines flight attendant for three years.
Smith says he was already working three jobs to pay bills in San Francisco.
"Living in the Bay Area is not cheap we all know that," said Smith.
The airline industry reports that travel is down 70% compared to this time last year.
"What we really need is an overall coronavirus stimulus bill for the entire country," said Paul Hartshorn, Jr., a spokesman for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants or APFA which represents 27,000 American Airlines flight attendants.
"We are looking to keep the payroll support extension through March 2021," said Hartshorn, "By that time demand will have returned where we won't have these massive layoffs and tons more workers on the unemployment lines without health care. It's just not the answer."
"We raised our offer to $1.6 trillion. Among that was $250 billion for state and local," said Kayleigh Mcenany, the White House Press Secretary who addressed the sticking point of aid to state and local governments.
Some Senate Republicans say they are sticking to their $500 billion plan and say they likely won't support the higher price tag
"What the speaker did, even after coming down a full trillion dollars is throw everything you could imagine into the package," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
"We're hopeful that we can reach agreement because the needs of the American people are so great. But there has to be a recognition that it takes money to do that," said Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU. Email Jana at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana