Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., issued a stark warning to any multinational companies looking to Congress to help them weather the economic downturn from the coronavirus outbreak: If you want taxpayer money, bring jobs back to the United States.
Hawley delivered his warning via Twitter on Wednesday as the Trump administration pursues a $1 trillion stimulus package to aid Americans and an economy devastated by business closures and event cancellations and a concerted push for people to stay inside in the effort to curb infection rates.
“To any multinational corporations that come to Congress asking for taxpayer $$$, you better come prepared to explain how you will move supply chains and jobs back to America if you want my vote,” Hawley tweeted.
The White House proposal includes $50 billion for lending to the airline industry, which has drastically reduced flights due to travel bans and social distancing. The proposal also calls for $150 billion to "other severely distressed sectors of the U.S. economy" through secured lending or loan guarantees, with Trump signaling that the hotel and cruise line industries along with airlines are “prime candidates” to receive the aid.
While an aid package to the airlines would be contingent on "limits on increases in executive pay" until the loans are repaid, many Americans want to see more radical changes to an industry critics say puts profit over travelers’ safety and comfort.
“We cannot permit American and other airlines to use federal assistance, whether labeled a bailout or not, to weather the coronavirus crisis and then return to business as usual,” Tim Wu, a law professor at Columbia University, wrote in The New York Times. “Before providing any loan relief, tax breaks or cash transfers, we must demand that the airlines change how they treat their customers and employees and make basic changes in industry ownership structure.”
Along with the money for major companies, the administration is also seeking $250 billion in payments to Americans starting April 6, followed by another $250 billion cash-payment round beginning May 18. The two payments to taxpayers would be identical and the amounts would vary by family income and size.
Trump also wants $300 billion to help small businesses, which have suffered under social isolation and various cities banning dine-in services at bars and restaurants in an effort to prevent the spread.
The draft of the plan outlines a major economic infusion that goes well beyond the stimulus and bailout plans during the last financial crisis and is designed to prop up an economy that has ground to a halt, as stores and restaurants and schools are shuttering nationwide and families are isolating at home.
Congress and President Trump already approved an $8.3 billion package to prop up the health care system to respond to the pandemic. The Senate Wednesday was poised to send another bill to Trump's desk to give 14 paid sick days to workers, boost unemployment insurance, make coronavirus testing free and increase food assistance during the crisis.
But all sides agree that the government must pass a third round of stimulus as soon as possible to help small businesses stay afloat, aid workers who have lost jobs and give the economy a jolt as American consumers nationwide are stuck home.
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz and Hillary Vaughn contributed to this report.