Stunned by the rapidity with which the coronavirus crisis has gripped America in a chokehold, Congress on Friday scrambled to agree on a massive financial-relief package that could prevent economic collapse on top of the mounting toll in human lives.
But key players insist that any such government aid — while preventing permanent damage to the nation’s infrastructure, including the aerospace-manufacturing sector topped by Boeing and its major suppliers — should come with conditions that preserve the workforce rather than bailing out shareholders for their losses.
“The money has to be used for the continued operation of the company,” said Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, who chairs the Aviation Subcommittee of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “It’s not to be used for anything else. Executives don’t get bonuses. Shareholders don’t get dividends. There are no share buybacks.”
Sen. Maria Cantwell, in a phone interview during a break from the U.S. Senate negotiations, said Senate Republicans had already accepted as inevitable that any deal must cap executive pay and end dividend payouts and share buybacks.
Boeing, reading the tea leaves and no doubt also anxious to preserve cash, said Friday afternoon that it will suspend dividends and share buybacks until further notice, and will not pay CEO Dave Calhoun and Board Chairman Larry Kellner for the rest of this year.