Co-chair of bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers says airlines should get grants, not loans

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The co-chairman of a centrist bipartisan group of U.S. House lawmakers known as the “Problem Solvers”, Representative Josh Gottheimer, said Thursday U.S. airlines should get grants, not loans as part of coronavirus aid.

“I think they should get grants, given that we need to keep airlines operating,” Gottheimer, a Democrat, said in a Zoom call with local leaders from his district.

Gottheimer also expressed concerns about “piecemeal” legislation just to help the struggling airline sector or others after the Trump administration walked away from talks over a larger COVID-19 stimulus package. “You risk leaving pieces out that need to get done,” Gottheimer said.

He urged the Trump administration to return to the negotiating table to discuss a comprehensive package of coronavirus relief. “Please don’t quit on the American people, let’s get this done.”

The Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of 50 Democratic and Republican members of the House of Representatives, last month proposed a $1.5 trillion bipartisan coronavirus relief package in an effort to break the impasse in COVID-19 talks between the White House and top Democrats.

House Democratic leaders have sought more, around $2.2 trillion. Before breaking off the talks, the White House was discussing about nearly $1.6 trillion. But many Senate Republicans are opposed to more coronavirus aid after Congress already approved $3 trillion earlier this year.

Reporting by Susan Cornwell, Editing by Franklin Paul, Kirsten Donovan