Capitol Report: Here are the industries that could get coronavirus aid from the U.S. government
Entire industries are hurting and hoping for help from the U.S. government, as Americans cancel travel plans and avoid stores and restaurants because of the coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Trump administration has been pitching a stimulus package of potentially $1 trillion or more that involves aid for hard-hit sectors such as the airline industry.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers also are working on broad stimulus measures that could help other industries facing financial problems as well as the workers they employ. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said the Senate will pass a new House Democratic relief bill as soon as possible and begin work on another large rescue package right away.
“This is not an ordinary situation, so it requires extraordinary measures,” McConnell said.
Here are some of the individual industries that could be in line for financial assistance:
• Airlines:U.S. carriers may get a $50 billion bailout, which would be about $10 billion below the industry’s request, said Henrietta Treyz, director of economic policy at Veda Partners, in a note. The airline industry
had requested $25 billion in immediate grant assistance for carriers, $4 billion for cargo carriers, and $29 billion in zero-interest loans and guarantees, she said.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin, speaking at a news conference with President Donald Trump on Tuesday, said airlines were due to get loan guarantees in the Trump administration’s proposal, adding that he had spoken to carriers’ CEOs in recent days, though he declined to give specifics on any aid. “The airline industry will be in good shape,” Trump said on Tuesday.
• Hotels, restaurants: Mnuchin on Tuesday said hotels were among the industries due to get loan guarantees in the Trump administration’s proposed package. Regarding support for restaurants, the Treasury secretary said many of them are small businesses and the administration had a specific aid program in the works for such businesses.
Mnuchin also said the administration would work with states to make sure that drive-through windows at restaurants stay open, and he encouraged people to use restaurant apps to order meals while practicing “social distancing.” Trump on Tuesday said he participated in a phone call with restaurant executives that focused on COVID-19, adding that it included fast-food chains McDonald’s
and Restaurant Brands International’s
• Cruise lines: Cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean
have suspended operations to U.S. ports for 30 days and are dealing with huge drops in revenue. But Trump, speaking in a news conference on Friday as he declared a national emergency, offered hope for the ailing sector, saying it’s “a very important industry and we will be helping them,” though he didn’t give details.
• Aircraft manufacturers: Boeing Co.
reportedly has been in talks with the White House and members of Congress about financial assistance for the plane manufacturer and its suppliers, as part of a broader aid package for the aviation industry, but further details weren’t initially available. “We have to protect Boeing,” Trump said at Tuesday’s news conference.
• Energy industry: As oil prices plunge due to a slump in demand as the coronavirus epidemic hits the economy, a trade group for oil and natural gas companies
is asking lawmakers to suspend the Jones Act, a law that adds to the energy industry’s costs by requiring that goods moving among American ports be transported on U.S. ships.
“A temporary waiver can allow American producers to move domestic products with greater ease within the U.S.,” said Anne Bradbury, CEO of the American Exploration & Production Council, in a letter last week to lawmakers. She also said the industry “is not seeking a bailout from the federal government,” but rather “a restoration of a functioning, stable, global market for oil, which removes artificial manipulation of the global marketplace.”
• Retailers: The retail sector’s
main trade group is among the industry associations that asked the White House to stop tariffs on China right away as part of the U.S. government’s coronavirus response.
“We can think of no other policy tool at the administration’s disposal that would have such a fast and beneficial impact as the immediate and retroactive removal of these tariffs,” said the letter sent Friday by the National Retail Federation and other trade groups, according to a New York Times report. “Such a move would instantly put billions of dollars back into the U.S. economy.”
• Consumer packaged goods: The Consumers Brands Association, a trade group for makers of packaged goods, sent a letter to Trump on Sunday with several requests. The association — whose members include General Mills
— lobbied in the letter for “funds in upcoming emergency supplemental appropriations bills to mitigate supply-chain disruptions and manage food, personal care, hygiene, cleaning, disinfecting and sterilization input shortages.”
In addition, it asked the administration to “suspend for six months new regulatory decisions that could hinder supply chains or take focus and resources away from the national need for increased production and delivery of critical goods.”