Washington, DC — The White House threatened to veto the fiscal 2021 minibus spending bill over a requirement in the bill that passengers and employees wear masks on commercial airplanes, Amtrak trains, and public transit systems. Larry Willis, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues this statement in response:
“Science has shown us that masks are a public health necessity, not a bargaining chip up for negotiation. That is why transportation workers and their unions called on the Trump administration to mandate masks onboard commercial passenger vehicles. It is shameful that this White House would threaten to veto a transportation funding bill over such a simple, life-saving measure.
“Sadly, from day one of this pandemic, the Trump administration has failed to utilize the power of the federal government to protect Americans. As a result, working families and communities of color are paying the price for this blatant disregard of public office, and the fate of the country is now in the hands of Congress.
“Hundreds of thousands of Americans, including those who work on the front lines of our nation’s transportation system, have become ill or died. Millions more continue to put their lives on the line as they work through the pandemic without the federal standards they need to do their jobs safely. Meanwhile, significant components of our transportation network – the backbone of our nation’s economy – are under threat as they face dire economic uncertainty.
“Now is not the time to be playing politics. The fact that this administration is willing to walk away from desperately needed investments in key parts of our transportation network, including our aviation, highways, transit, and passenger rail systems, especially at this time, is an outrage that working people will not stand for.”