As airline bailout begins, Trump urges aid for U.S. oil and gas industry

Part of an emergency $2.2 trillion effort to help businesses and workers hit by the Coronavirus outbreak, the federal government has started handing out money this week to major airlines under what's known as the Payroll Support Program, as President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he was ordering federal officials to consider similar help for the U.S. oil and gas industry.

“The Payroll Support Program is critical to supporting American workers and preserving our airline industry, which is a vital part of the U.S. economy,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a written statement.

Mnuchin announced Monday that the Trump Administration had reached deals with a series of major airlines to tap emergency aid from the feds, including big names like Delta, Southwest, American, Spirit, and United.

“We continue to work quickly to deliver this needed relief," Mnuchin added, as the Treasury Department said the first payments of $2.9 billion had been made on Monday.

On Tuesday, President Trump tweeted that he would like to see additional financial help to another troubled sector of the American economy - the oil and gas industry.

The President's comment came a day after some futures prices for West Texas Intermediate oil went negative, as the price of oil has dropped considerably in recent weeks.

"The problem is nobody is driving the car anywhere in the world, essentially, 184 nations," the President told reporters on Monday. "Factories are closed and businesses are closed."

U.S. lawmakers have accused Russia and OPEC nations are deliberately flooding the world markets with oil, in an effort to submarine American oil producers.

The President's comments on Tuesday came as the oil market continued to encounter volatility, amid concerns of how the Coronavirus outbreak would continue to impact the economy, and the energy industry.

Mr. Trump had reached a deal in recent weeks with Russia and Saudi Arabia to stabilize the price of oil, but oil markets have not stabilized.

Jamie Dupree

Jamie Dupree, CMG Washington News Bureau

Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau