May 07, 2020

Duckworth at COVID-19 Hearing: Why Isn’t CARES Act Funding Being Used to Protect Airline Maintenance Workers?


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – During a Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation (CST) Committee hearing yesterday, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) questioned industry leaders about why bipartisan CARES Act relief funding is not being dispersed in a timely manner to Maintenance Repair and Operations (MRO) companies, airline contractors or caterers. Many of these companies, including several in Illinois, have not yet received any relief from the Treasury Department despite being eligible for the $25 billion in loans set aside for them and passenger airlines as a result of a provision Duckworth helped secure in the CARES Act. Duckworth also questioned Airlines for America (A4A) President/CEO Nicholas Calio on efforts to improve passenger data sharing capabilities, which is essential to maximize contract tracing efforts. Video of Duckworth’s questions at the hearing is available here.

“It has been six weeks since Congress passed the bipartisan CARES Act, yet many MRO companies and airline contractors and caterers are still waiting on the Treasury Department to finalize their loan applications,” Duckworth said. “This failure of the Treasury Department to approve applications in a timely manner has resulted in furloughs that the CARES Act was specifically designed to prevent. It’s critical that we conduct rigorous oversight of the CARES Act so that we make sure taxpayer resources are protecting workers and support jobs as the law intended.”

During her time in the Army, the last project Duckworth worked on at the Pentagon’s Defense Support of Civil Authorities was to help train other servicemembers on responding to global pandemics. At a CST Hearing in March, Duckworth questioned the Trump Administration’s lack of preparedness in responding to the outbreak of COVID-19, specifically related to data sharing between airlines and the agencies tasked with coordinating an effective response.