Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Saturday, July 23, 2011

FAA faces partial shutdown over Washington money wrangling -- Tens of thousands of workers face immediate furlough

The Federal Aviation Administration faced a partial shutdown Saturday morning as Congress adjourned Friday without approving a routine stop-gap funding measure amid partisan acrimony.

More than 4,000 FAA workers, 1,000 of them in the Washington region, and tens of thousands of airport construction workers under FAA contract faced immediate furlough. The nation’s air travel system will not be affected, with air traffic controllers remaining on the job and airline operations continuing as normal.

The funding extension would have been the 21st since the FAA’s long-term funding authorization expired in 2007. But House Republicans added provisions to their extension bill that the Senate would not accept.

“I’m very disappointed that Congress adjourned today without passing a clean extension of the FAA bill,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “Because of their inaction, states and airports won’t be able to work on their construction projects, and too many people will have to go without a paycheck. This is no way to run the best aviation system in the world.”

Officials said lawmakers would take up the funding issue again Monday. But in the final hours before they headed home Friday, the warring members of Congress accused one another of senseless, inexcusable, astounding behavior, of playing politics and of engaging in doublespeak.

House Transportation Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-Fla.) said he included the provision to which Democrats in the House and Senate objected out of frustration over the pace of negotiations to reach agreement on long-term FAA funding plans passed by the House and Senate this year.

It cut federal subsidies for air service to several small airports in rural areas.

“In light of the nation’s pending financial disaster and soaring deficits, they couldn’t find a way to cut even a few million dollars by accepting this minor request to reduce outlandish subsidies,” Mica said. (more)