Aid

White House lurches in new direction on stimulus talks, pushing for airline aid

The newest twist in the talks appears to be fast-tracking negotiations to aid the airline industry but shelving the prospects broader unemployment aid, another round of $1,200 relief checks to millions of Americans, small business assistance, and a number of other programs.

Still, after sinking on Tuesday, the stock market rallied sharply Wednesday on the prospect of a partial deal. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up more than 500 points, or nearly 2 percent. Airline stocks fared even better, with American Airlines and United Airlines seeing their share prices up more than 4 percent.

The herky jerky nature of the economic relief talks have played out over months, as the White House and Democrats have failed to agree on a broader support package. The economy showed some signs of recovery over the summer but not it appears pockets are softening again, with the travel industry last week announcing a spate of layoffs and the labor market remaining stubbornly weak while the coronavirus pandemic remains a factor in many parts of the country.

President Trump and Pelosi exchanged insults again on Wednesday, a sign that the broader relief talks are unlikely to be revived. But both sides did appear interested in trying to work out some sort of immediate aid for the airline industry, which has seen a dramatic drop in traffic since earlier this year. Last week, American and United began furloughing more than 30,000 employees.

Mnuchin’s outreach came amid a growing backlash from Republicans running for reelection who questioned – and in some cases denounced – Trump’s decision to end negotiations between Mnuchin and Pelosi on a broader relief package. Trump had announced Tuesday that he was asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to focus on confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court instead — a

White House aides downplay coronavirus aid chances; Pelosi blasts Trump, but discusses airline help

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top White House officials on Wednesday downplayed the possibility of more coronavirus relief, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi disparaged President Donald Trump for backing away from talks on a comprehensive deal.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters that “the stimulus negotiations are off,” echoing Trump’s announcement on Tuesday, and said in an interview on Fox News the administration backed a more piecemeal approach to help some sectors of the economy.

But in a separate interview with CNBC, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that approach would likely not work either.

“Right now in terms of the probability curve, this would probably be low low-probability stuff.”

On Tuesday evening, after having shut down the negotiations on a comprehensive coronavirus package during the day, Trump wrote on Twitter that Congress should pass money for airlines, small businesses, and stimulus checks of $1,200 for individuals.

Pelosi told ABC’s “The View” that Trump’s tweets were an effort to rebound from “a terrible mistake,” but she brushed aside questions about doing a slimmed-down aid package, still favoring a comprehensive version.

“It is really important for us to come to this agreement,” she said.

Pelosi, however, did ask Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday to review a standalone bill for $25 billion in aid to airlines that Democrats tried to advance last week, her spokesman wrote on Twitter. [L1N2GY0NM]

Mnuchin, who had been Pelosi’s negotiating partner as they tried to reach a comprehensive package in recent days, had asked her about the possibility of a standalone airlines bill in a telephone call Wednesday.

As for Trump’s suggestion about the stimulus checks, Pelosi told ABC: “All he has ever wanted in the negotiation is to send out a check with his name printed on it.”

U.S. airlines urge relief as White House signals possible piecemeal aid

By Tracy Rucinski



a airplane that is parked on the tarmac at an airport: FILE PHOTO: Boeing 737 jet sits at a gate at Washington's Reagan National airport with U.S. Capitol building in the background in Washington


© Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
FILE PHOTO: Boeing 737 jet sits at a gate at Washington’s Reagan National airport with U.S. Capitol building in the background in Washington

CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. airlines urged top lawmakers on Wednesday to advance a standalone bill that would extend $25 billion in payroll support through March, as the Trump administration signaled possible piecemeal legislation a day after walking away from broad COVID-19 relief talks.



a group of fighter jets fly through the air: FILE PHOTO: Delta Air Lines passenger planes parked in Birmingham


© Reuters/ELIJAH NOUVELAGE
FILE PHOTO: Delta Air Lines passenger planes parked in Birmingham

“We are disappointed that negotiations between Congress and the Administration over additional COVID-19 relief were suddenly suspended yesterday,” Airlines for America, the main industry trade group, and a dozen airline unions wrote in a letter on Wednesday seen by Reuters.

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“Now, in the absence of an overall COVID-19 relief package, we urge you to advance standalone legislation to extend the PSP (payroll support program),” it said.

The letter was sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Earlier, White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, told reporters that stimulus talks were off but that negotiators were looking at standalone bills on 10 things that “we agree on.”

The idea of airline relief has so far enjoyed broad bipartisan support in Washington, though last week Representative Peter DeFazio, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, failed to win approval of a standalone bipartisan measure for airlines under unanimous consent after some Republicans objected.

Airline shares jumped on Wednesday after sinking suddenly a day earlier on remarks by President Donald Trump that his administration would abandon talks with congressional Democrats over proposals to spend at least $1.6 trillion in additional coronavirus relief funds.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Chizu

White House says ‘not optimistic’ about COVID-19 aid, talks with Congress are off

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Wednesday said he was not optimistic that a comprehensive deal could be reached on further COVID-19 financial aid and that the Trump administration backed a more piecemeal approach, even as he said negotiations with Congress were over.



a man wearing a suit and tie: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters about President Trump's health after he was tested positive for COVID19


© Reuters/KEN CEDENO
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters about President Trump’s health after he was tested positive for COVID19

“We’re still willing to be engaged, but I’m not optimistic for a comprehensive deal. I am optimistic that there’s about 10 things that we can do on a piecemeal basis,” Meadows told Fox News in an interview.

Meadows did not say what 10 items the administration wanted to tackle, but reiterated President Donald Trump’s position tweeted late Tuesday night that he would back separate legislation addressing airlines, small businesses and stimulus checks for individuals.

Trump called off talks with lawmakers on pandemic aid in a tweet on Tuesday, rattling Wall Street as U.S. stocks sank. He later pulled back saying he would support a few stand-alone bills.

U.S. stock indexes appeared set to open higher on Wednesday, and airline stocks were also higher.

“The stimulus negotiations are off,” Meadows later told reporters at the White House on Tuesday. “Obviously we’re looking at the potential for stand-alone bills. There’s abut 10 things that we agree on and if the Speaker is willing to look at it on a piece-by-piece basis then we’re willing to look at it,” he said referring to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The Democratic-led House has already passed full legislation seeking a wide range of aid as the novel coronavirus continues to spread, infecting an estimated 7.5 million Americans and killing more than 210,600 — the highest in the world.

Pelosi on Tuesday said

Dallas Agency Brings Coding In-House to Target Covid-19 Aid

The Dallas Housing Authority’s efforts to distribute Covid-19 housing assistance to the city’s renters were bolstered by a sales software system reconfigured with features that enabled officials to grant aid more quickly and equitably.

The governmental agency, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in August was tasked with distributing $4 million to income-eligible renters before Dec. 31 as part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

To meet the deadline and ensure the funds would reach the neediest families, DHA staffers customized an existing software program from Zoho Corp. to automate tasks and map the most economically vulnerable neighborhoods in the city. Zoho’s customer relationship-management software is primarily intended for sales teams.

“If we can leverage technology to move faster but also move with intention, that was really the spirit of what I tried to accomplish here,” said Dr. Myriam Igoufe, vice president of policy development and research at DHA.

The Dallas Housing Authority’s system for managing Cares Act funds is based on customer-relationship management software from Zoho Corp.



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Dallas Housing Authority

The automated system her team built went live in late August and started approving checks to landlords last week.

Early results are encouraging, she said. Staff now have a better understanding of who is applying and from what sections of the city, an important distinction that enables officials to better sense whether the money allocated to one district may run out and adjust plans if needed.

Approximately 1,525 people applied for rent relief funds through DHA, with 388 approved to have checks sent to their landlords in the coming weeks. Sixty-three percent of those accepted applicants came from neighborhoods above the 80th percentile in terms of being the most vulnerable. Without the system they have created, Dr. Igoufe said,