- President Donald Trump signed a continuing resolution (CR) Thursday that limits federal furloughs and provides relief for federal contractors, according to a White House announcement. H.R. 8337 was passed by both houses of Congress before the end of the fiscal year to avoid a government shutdown, allowing federal agencies to remain up and running through Dec. 11. After the Senate passed the CR the evening of Sept. 30 with a 84-10 vote, Trump signed the bill into law upon his return to the White House following a campaign event in Minnesota, according to CNBC. The House passed the measure Sept. 22 with a vote of 359-57.
- The bipartisan bill includes various temporary provisions such as restrictions to furloughs or termination of federal employees due to lack of funds. It also extends payments to certain contractors and allows qualifying contractors to be reimbursed for the costs of providing paid leave to employees during the pandemic. This is an extension of Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to "to protect the life and safety of government and contractor personnel," the Department of Homeland Security stated in an April memo.
- The CR also increased and expanded U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fees for providing premium processing services for certain immigration-related applications. In August, the USCIS averted an administrative furlough of more than 13,000 employees.
The spending bill provides funding and guidance to federal agencies, but lawmakers are still undecided on the next national coronavirus aid package. Workers in industries hit financially hard by the pandemic have endured job loss or furloughs.
Both American Airlines and United Airlines announced they will begin furloughing more than 32,000 employees Oct. 1, the Washington Post reported. However, if a stimulus deal is reached, both airlines said they could reverse course, according to reports. In March, Congress approved $25 billion in payroll assistance to U.S. passenger airline payrolls through September.
The Treasury Department announced Sept. 29 it completed loans to American and United, as well as Alaska, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue and SkyWest to support payroll. "The payroll support and loan programs created by the CARES Act have saved a large number of aviation industry jobs, and kept workers employed and connected to their healthcare, during an unprecedented time," Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a statement. Mnuchin called on Congress to extend the Paycheck Protection Program, which expired Aug. 8.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said on Twitter Sept. 30 that the House would proceed on a vote of the revised version of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act), legislation for a proposed $3 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package. The House passed the first version of the HEROES Act in May, but it did not make it to the Senate floor for a vote. Pelosi also said that she and Mnuchin "had an extensive conversation and we found areas where we are seeking further clarification; our conversation will continue."