Top Democrats Press Treasury to Accelerate Airline Bailout

Mr. Mnuchin has insisted that companies will not be forced to hand over their stock, but that taxpayers must be compensated for offering relief.

“There is a specific line in the bill that says that the secretary, meaning me, will determine proper compensation,” Mr. Mnuchin said at a White House briefing last week. “Once we get our advice from our financial advisers, we get the applications from the airlines, I’ll be working very closely with the president, and we’ll make sure that we strike the right balance.”

The department had no immediate comment on the letter from lawmakers.

Airline executives have been hesitant to say whether they will let the government take stakes in their companies. Unions that represent flight attendants at several major airlines urged Mr. Mnuchin not to exercise his power to take stock in the airlines last week. They said it would deter executives from taking aid, leading to more job cuts.

“The public gets a huge return on investment in this deal,” said Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants union. “It keeps two million hourly workers employed, paying taxes and able to spend, and it ensures that aviation is ready to fly again and restart our economy the moment we have the virus under control.”

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