Pelosi Open To Standalone Airline Relief; Direct Payments To Americans Left Hanging

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has signaled a willingness to consider a standalone airline relief bill during a Wednesday morning telephone conversation with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, after President Trump pulled the plug on broader stimulus negotiations until after the election.

"The secretary inquired about a standalone airlines bill. The speaker reminded him that Republicans blocked that bill on Friday & asked him to review the DeFazio bill so that they could have an informed conversation," tweeted Pelosi spokesman, Drew Hammill.

And while President Trump mentioned an airline standalone bill following a barrage of Tuesday tweets, Hammill made no mention of the $1,200 direct stimulus payments Trump said he would sign off on "IMMEDIATELY."

According to Bloomberg, "Mnuchin’s call underscores the Trump administration’s concern about the state of the airline industry, which has been walloped by the Covid-19 crisis and seen tens of thousands of job cuts. Help for the carriers had been part of a broader coronavirus relief package negotiation, which Trump abruptly ended Tuesday."

As Goldman Sachs notes, "Since the White House and Democratic leaders appear to support standalone airline relief legislation, enactment of another $25bn in airline aid looks increasingly likely."

And if airline aid isn't passed, soon, Q4 cash burn will accelerate an already-catastrophic backdrop for the industry thanks to the pandemic.

U.S. carriers have furloughed about 38,000 people since Oct. 1, including major layoffs at American Airlines Group Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. Those cuts followed the departure of 150,000 who left airlines voluntarily or accepted leave. Pelosi last week urged the airlines to postpone layoffs, promising that relief was imminent. -Bloomberg

Last Friday, House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio attempted to pass an extension for airline aid by unanimous consent, but GOP lawmakers objected - saying they hadn't been briefed on it.

And on Wednesay, Pelosi appeared on "The View," where she said Trump made a "terrible mistake" by walking away from negotiations until after the election, because he "saw the political downside of his statement of walking away."