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Congress / Congress

House To Leave FAA in Limbo

A Delta Airlines baggage cart drives by a Delta Airlines plane at San Francisco International Airport on July 27, 2011 in San Francisco, Calif.(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

August 1, 2011

The partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration will drag on until September because the House adjourned for its August recess without waiting for a bill to fund the agency from the Senate.

The Senate is preparing to pass a clean stopgap funding bill on Monday night, but it won't become law unless the House agrees to it, which will not happen until September at the earliest. The House has already passed an FAA stopgap, but it includes extra provisions on rural airport subsidies that are objectionable in the Senate.

On Monday evening, House GOP aides said the House doesn't intend to back down. The House adjourned on Monday night and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's office announced on Monday night that the House will not return until September 7.

 

House leaders' position is that the Senate should pass a previously passed House extension, with provisions Senate Democrats rejected. "The House has passed a bill," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. A Democratic leadership aide said the Senate will not approve the House-passed bill.

The FAA was forced to go into partial shutdown 10 days ago because lawmakers couldn't agree on a short-term extension. Some 4,000 FAA employees have been furloughed and hundreds of airport construction projects are on hold. The impasse in Congress could mean a month without paychecks for some inspectors who are continuing to work to ensure that the safety of the flying public isn't compromised.

Speaking on the Senate floor Monday night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said they did not expect resolution of the dispute before the August recess.

“We’re going to be leaving town, leaving up to 80,000 people out of work,” Reid said, citing lost construction jobs as a result of the partial FAA shutdown.

“If things follow their current course, as I believe they will,” furloughed FAA workers “will go at least another month or more without pay,” Rockefeller said. The West Virginia Democrat said House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., seemed willing to “shut down the FAA” over an "ideological issue," and called the dispute "a tragedy that never had to happen" that was ultimately about "bullying."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said it was Democrats who were insisting on inserting pro-Labor “bullcrap” in the bill.

 

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