By Keith Laing
“Republicans should stop jeopardizing the jobs of nearly 90,000 American construction workers and penalizing the people who keep our skies safe by holding their job hostage to their 'my way or the runway' approach,” he continued.
About 4,000 FAA employees were furloughed three days ago, after the last appropriations bill for the agency expired Friday at midnight. The House and Senate could not agree by then on a new measure and remain gridlocked.
The holdup stems from a provision in the House version of a short-term extension of the FAA funding bill that eliminates some subsidies for rural air service through the Essential Air Service (EAS) program. A longer-term bill has been bogged down by a House effort to undo rules for unionization of railroad and airline employees that would make it harder for them to vote to collectively bargain.
Neither side has appeared to move any closer to the other's position.
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) has made clear he does not plan to budge.
“To put people back to work and restart FAA programs, the Senate needs to adopt the FAA extension passed by the House last Wednesday," Mica said in a statement released late Tuesday by his office.
“If the Senate cannot agree to a simple provision, which it approved earlier this year, to eliminate excessive subsidies between $1,358 and $3,720 per ticket at three airports, then we don’t need to convene a conference meeting," he continued. “Those 4,000 FAA employees have been furloughed so some in the Senate can protect their own political pork with airline ticket subsidies of more than $3,700 per passenger. "I stand ready and committed to work with the Senate and all parties on an FAA bill, but the only way to get FAA employees back to work immediately is for the Senate to act now."
Rahall said that it would best to have that debate in a longer bill.
“While pink slips have already gone out to airport construction crews from coast to coast, the House Republican leadership could minimize the destructive damage by ending their political games but yesterday they indicated they are unwilling to meet to resolve the differences," he said. "Republicans should extend the FAA through the end of September and join Senator Jay Rockefeller at the bargaining table to reauthorize the FAA.”
-- This post was updated at 1:25 p.m.