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Exclusive: Congressional Democrats set to back more than US$50 billion for transportation sector

WASHINGTON: Democrats in the U.S. Congress are set to release a sweeping plan on Monday to provide more than US$50 billion in additional assistance to U.S. airlines, transit systems, airports and passenger railroad Amtrak and create a new US$3 billion program to assist aviation manufacturers with payroll costs, according to documents seen by Reuters and sources briefed on the matter.

The US$1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal will provide US$30 billion to transit agencies, US$14 billion for passenger airlines, US$8 billion to U.S. airports, US$1 billion for airline contractors and US$1.5 billion to Amtrak, the draft legislation says. U.S. House committees are set to vote on the legislation on Wednesday.

President Joe Biden had proposed US$20 billion for struggling U.S. transit agencies, while Democrats had pushed for more, citing the collapse in travel demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. airlines have been awarded US$40 billion in payroll support since March and airline unions had asked Congress for another US$15 billion to keep thousands of workers on the payroll past March 31, when the current round of funding expires. The additional US$14 billion will keeping nearly 30,000 airline workers on the job through Sept. 30.

The US$3 billion aviation manufacturing program would provide a 50per cent government subsidy to cover costs of pay, benefits and training for employees at risk of being furloughed or who were furloughed due to the pandemic.

U.S. airplane manufacturer Boeing and suppliers have cut thousands of manufacturing jobs over the last year as demand for new planes has shrunk amid the collapse in airline travel.

(This story refiles to correct US$1.9 trillion in second paragraph)

(Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Franklin Paul and Dan Grebler)

Source: Reuters

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