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U.S. lawmakers expected to back $15 billion in airlines payroll assistance

WASHINGTON, Dec 20 (Reuters) - The bipartisan legislative deal expected to be unveiled by U.S. lawmakers on Sunday will grant U.S. airlines $15 billion in new payroll assistance that will allow them to return more than 32,000 furloughed workers to their payrolls through March 31, sources briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The legislative plan to provide about $900 billion in COVID-19 relief and fund the government is also expected to include $1 billion to passenger railroad Amtrak, $14 billion for public transit systems, and $10 billion for state highways, the sources said. It is also expected to include significant reforms to how the Federal Aviation Administration certifies new airplanes in the wake of two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes that killed 346 people. (Reporting by David Shepardson; additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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