Estes seek federal funding support for aviation industry

U.S. Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS) on Aug. 11 introduced bipartisan legislation that would establish a program to preserve jobs in the aviation manufacturing industry, a sector critical to the economy in his south central Kansas district.

“Kansans have built general aviation and commercial airplanes for a century, helping us become the Air Capital of the World,” Rep. Estes said. “However, recent groundings and the negative effects of COVID-19 have slowed production rates to record lows, putting thousands of Kansans out of work and jeopardizing our local companies’ stability.”

Rep. Estes sponsored the Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Act, H.R. 8002, with lead cosponsor U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), which would allow aviation manufacturers to designate 25 percent of their workforce at risk of furlough due to COVID-19 to be eligible for up to 50 percent of their total compensation covered by the U.S. Treasury Department, while the employer would cover the remaining 50 percent, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Estes’ office.

If enacted, H.R. 8002 would require the Treasury Secretary and the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary to oversee the program, according to the summary.

Additionally, H.R. 8002 would provide several safeguards, such as restrictions on employers circumventing collective bargaining agreements, moving jobs assisted by the program out of the United States, and using the program for stock buybacks or paying out dividends, the summary says.

The program authorized under the bill also would be authorized through April 2022, “given the unknown nature of the pandemic’s impact on aviation manufacturing companies,” according to the summary.

“The Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Act will help keep workers on the payroll and connected with their aviation jobs, which solves the short-term unemployment issue and keeps our skilled workforce here in the Sunflower State for the long term,” said Rep. Estes. “As aviation manufacturing ramps back up, these employees will benefit from maintaining a connection with their employer and be able to rejoin the workforce easily.”

H.R. 8002 is supported by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and the Aerospace Industries Association.