Contractors in the airline industry are on the hot seat as legislators look into layoffs as they received federal aid.
“Three House Democrats on Wednesday slammed airline contractors that laid off more than 9,000 employees despite accepting millions in federal coronavirus aid.
The lawmakers asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to stop aid to the companies or ask for some of the funds back.
Congress set aside $32 billion in payroll support to the ailing airline industry in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March. Of that sum, $3 billion was set aside for contractors like caterers. The terms of the aid, which was mostly grants, prohibited recipients from laying workers off through Sept. 30.
‘We urge Treasury to stop providing taxpayer-funded payroll support for workers that have been laid off and to recover any funds that were inappropriately awarded,’ wrote Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., chairman of a subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chair of the House of Representative’s transportation and infrastructure committee and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA.), chairwoman of the financial services committee, in a letter to Mnuchin.
The Treasury Department said the requirements of the aid ban layoffs after an agreement is signed and that it doesn’t have the authority to prohibit job cuts beforehand. It also said it cannot force the companies to rehire workers.
‘The CARES Act, which was passed unanimously, requires Treasury to provide payroll support to eligible applicants,’ a Treasury Department spokesperson said.’It does not require that former employees be rehired. Treasury has implemented the CARES Act as written.’
The lawmakers said they have started an investigation into the aid to contractors and said they found at least 12 that accepted more than $720 million in government support after laying off about 9,300 people.
Lawmakers said airline caterer Gate Gourmet is getting $171 million and that it has laid off more than 3,500 workers in California, Georgia, Illinois and New York.”
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