Reasonableness is a subjective, but frequent, element of major American law. You just need to get over it. In its Notices of Action, the DOT is, by elements of settled administrative law, required to outline its reasoning for disposition this way or that way. So long as it isn't 'arbitrary and capricious,' carriers need to suck it up. It would be very, very rare for local airport authorities to argue that they aren't deserving of service. Congress knew what it was voting for: continued service to all domestic destinations by all carriers.
Bottom line: it’s dumb to compel airlines to burn cash flying airplanes when load factors are in the low teens. If you think it’s a good idea because the CARES act wording requires it, then so be it. Common sense doesn’t always prevail, I will grant you that.
You don't like this-- I get that, I really do. You are absolutely entitled to feel that it's a bad idea and/or precedent.
The problem there though, is you don't seem to understand that no entity has any reason whatsoever to give a steaming pile of dog crap as to how you feel about it.
Because this funding is not a right, it's a mutually-assented agreement. Which means that the only thing that's EVER going to ACTUALLY matter (no matter how many times you write some variant of the word "compelling") is compliance in law and/or equity. That's it.
Thus how I, or him, or her, or them, or (especially) you, feel about this, is holistically immaterial.
You speak to "common sense," yet such a basic concept continues to escape your comprehension.
So here it is, now front, outlined, and centered. Feel free to reference back.
I myself, suspect a more prosaic motive... ~Thranduil