Pelosi's comments came one day after U.S. airlines began cutting 35,000 jobs following the expiration of a $25 billion bailout fund that was created earlier this year as part of the CARES Act. Under the terms of the agreement, airlines were prohibited from cutting jobs or reducing workers' pay through Sept. 30.
But absent another stimulus deal, major airlines warned they will be forced to furlough thousands of pilots, flight attendants, gate agents and other employees.
Pelosi said the House will either pass bipartisan stand-alone legislation introduced earlier in the year that would allocate $32 billion to protect aviation workers from layoffs through next March, or extend the Payroll Support Program for another six months in a broader coronavirus relief package.
"This initiative is focused solely on the workers, keeping them on the payroll so these workers maintain their critical training and certification requirements unique to their industry. As relief for airline workers is being advanced, the airline industry must delay these devastating job cuts," Pelosi said in a statement, the title of which was "Imminent Relief for Airline Workers."
House Democrats on Friday passed a $2.2 trillion aid package, but Republicans panned the legislation as too expensive amid concerns over the nation's ballooning deficit and more confidence the economy is recovering faster than expected.
The White House countered with a $1.6 trillion proposal, which Pelosi blasted as not even "half a loaf."
"What they're offering is the heel of the loaf," she told Bloomberg TV. "It's no use going into a negotiation if you say, 'I'll just take the path of least resistance.'"
Lawmakers are working on an increasingly tight deadline as they prepare to leave Washington to campaign ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
Airlines have begged the government for additional aid after a rebound in air travel, which plunged 95% between March and mid-April, when the COVID-19 crisis brought the nation's economy to a grinding halt, did not materialize this summer. While it's mounted a tepid recovery since then, air travel remains well below pre-pandemic levels.
|DAL||DELTA AIR LINES INC.||46.50||+0.22||+0.48%|
|UAL||UNITED AIRLINES HOLDINGS||56.52||+0.26||+0.46%|
|AAL||AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP, INC.||23.53||+0.07||+0.30%|
American Airlines sent furlough notices to 19,000 employees, and United Airlines sent notices to some 13,000 workers. Delta Airlines has warned that it intends to cut some 1,700 pilots on Nov. 1.