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DeFazio Secures Key Provisions for Workers and Families in New House Bill to Address the Impacts of the Coronavirus

Mar 24, 2020
Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, has secured key provisions for workers and families in the House Democrats’ bill to address the impacts of the coronavirus.

“Above all, we cannot repeat the mistakes of the 2008 Wall Street bailout, which was a massive no-strings-attached windfall for corporate executives and shareholders while working families were left behind,” said DeFazio. “We need to ensure that everyday Americans—those who have been hardest-hit by this economic crisis—are taken care of, not massive corporations.”

The legislation requires that any corporation that takes taxpayer dollars must protect their workers’ wages and benefits—not use it for CEO pay, stock buybacks, dividends, or employee layoffs. In addition, it gives direct cash payments to America’s families, and gives more workers the security of guaranteed paid family and medical leave, including those caring for seniors. It gives small businesses urgently-needed relief quickly, with grants and loans to aid them during this crisis, and strengthens unemployment benefits. It will also provide funding to support hospitals and Community Health Centers, secure additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect health care workers and first responders, and provide childcare assistance for health care workers and emergency personnel.

The bill will also strengthen SNAP and other initiatives in order address food insecurity for the millions of families faced with the difficult question of how to put food on the table. Additionally, this legislation protects the integrity of our elections by requiring early voting and ensuring that every American can cast a ballot by mail during this public health crisis, and provides urgently needed funds for our schools and higher education institutions, ensuring they have the dollars necessary to best support students and ensure continuity of their operations as schools and campuses close across the nation.

As Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, DeFazio secured a number of critical provisions in the bill to help millions of workers in the aviation, railroad, and public transit sector, as well as families that are at risk of losing water and wastewater services during the coronavirus crisis. These provisions include:

Relief for nearly one million aviation workers, including contracted workers: Provides $37 billion in grants, passed through by employing air carrier, to ensure approximately 750,000 employees of mainline, regional, and cargo airlines receive their regular paycheck. Provides an additional $3 billion to keep employees of ground support and catering contractors on the job. Provides $21 billion in unsecured loans to air carriers that are zero interest to start, but requires that over time loans must provide for payment of interest at rates commensurate with the level of risk assumed by the Government.

Ensures airline accountability: Prohibits airlines receiving financial assistance from repurchasing shares of stock or issuing dividends to shareholders; caps CEO pay and golden parachutes.

Consumer protections: Prevents price gouging during disaster or emergency and requires carriers to offer fare refunds during a national emergency.

Reducing carbon pollution in aviation: Among other things, encourages development and use of sustainable aviation fuels; expands a low-emissions program; and requires air carriers receiving federal assistance to fully offset carbon emissions by 2025 and reduce their own carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2035 and 50 percent by 2050.

Labor protections: Among other things, ensures airlines follow CDC and public health authorities guidelines for providing safe conditions for workers, including personal protection equipment; requires airlines to designate at least one seat on their boards of directors for labor union representation; ensures employee healthcare plans remain in place for furloughed workers; requires airlines to maintain at least $15 minimum wage for all employees and contractors for 10 years; and requires airlines to provide paid sick and medical family leave during illness, quarantine, or school closings related to the pandemic.

Relief for public transit agencies: Provides $25 billion to keep public transit operational so healthcare workers and other essential employees can get to work.

Relief for low-income household drinking water and wastewater rate assistance: Provides $1.5 billion to make sure low-income households continue to receive water and wastewater services regardless of ability to pay.

Relief for airports: Provides $10 billion for airports to use on infrastructure projects, cleaning, sanitization, janitorial services, staffing, workforce retention, airport operations, emergency response, debt service payments, and other needs. Requires airports retain 90 percent of their workforce and to provide relief to airport concessionaires.

“The Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act puts the health, wages, and well-being of America’s workers and families first,” added DeFazio. “I will continue to work with my colleagues to advance any and all initiatives needed to assist Oregonians and the American people during this crisis.”