Harry Reid: Sen. Coburn blocking FAA, highway funding bill in Senate

"One senator" could prevent the Senate from approving a bill to extend funding for highways and the Federal Aviation Administration, the latter of which expires Friday, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a speech on the floor Wednesday, referring to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla).

Reid (D-Nev.) said under Senate rules, a hold Coburn is placing on a bill to fund the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could prevent lawmakers in the chamber from voting a bill to extend the FAA's funding through January and highway spending through March. The deal, which has already been passed by the House, is widely expected to be approved in the Senate and is being hailed as a victory by transportation advocates after the partial shutdown of the FAA last month.

But Reid said Wednesday that Coburn's objection to the $6.9 billion FEMA bill because of its price could cost more emergency management dollars.

“I am in a situation where I can’t get to this bill until Friday, when it expires,” Reid said of the FAA bill.


Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg on evacuated flight at Dulles Airport

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was one of 179 passengers on a plane that was evacuated Wednesday at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., according to several published reports.

A spokesman for the Supreme Court told local news affiliates that Ginsburg, age 78, was on board United Airlines Flight 586 from Dulles to San Francisco when the pilot reported an engine fire to air traffic control. The plane was still on the ground, but passengers were evacuated from the plane using emergency slides before they were returned to the terminal.

Gingsburg, the oldest justice on the Supreme Court, reportedly used one of the slides, but neither she nor any of the other passengers were seriously injured in the incident.


News bites: Charged

Your morning transportation speed-read:

A passenger at Kansas City's International Airport has been charged after faking a bomb threat on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11.

No charges will be filed against passengers on a Detroit flight that made an emergency landing after they were locked in a bathroom on Sept. 11.

Airline delays were down over the summer.

A Southwest Airlines maintenance contractor has been fined by the Federal Aviation Administration.


Aerospace lobby to argue against supercommittee defense cuts

With the committee of lawmakers tasked with proposing $1.5 trillion in budget cuts before the end of the year scheduled to meet this week, the group that lobbies for aerospace companies will encourage Congress to spare defense spending in its  forthcoming debt reduction attempts.

The Washington-based Aerospace Industries Association will hold a news conference Wednesday at the National Press Club in the capital city to discuss what it calls  "the devastating job losses, national security threats and infrastructure implications that would result from budget cuts put in motion by the debt-ceiling deal."

Speakers at the AIA news conference event include AIA President James Albaugh, who is also the CEO of airplane manufacturer Boeing, and David Hess, president of aircraft engine manufacturing company Pratt & Whitney.


FAA funds to be front and center

The fight over the funding of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) retakes center stage this week, with the House expected to vote on a short-term extension of the beleaguered agency's funding through December.

The bill, a 22nd extension of an FAA appropriations bill that expired in 2007, is expected to contain back pay for workers who were furloughed last month when the agency was partially shut down for nearly two weeks.

The House GOP's bill does not contain controversial labor provisions that have stalled a new long-term FAA bill or cuts to the flight subsidies for rural airports that held up the last round of FAA funding this summer.


House to fund FAA through December, with furlough backpay

The House of Representatives will vote next week on a bill to extend funding of the Federal Aviation Administration through December and provide backpay to workers who were furloughed for nearly two weeks during a partial shutdown of the agency earlier this month.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) introduced a short-term extension of FAA funding, the 22nd for the beleaguered agency since 2007, that extends FAA funding through Dec. 31. The measure runs longer than the last three-week measure, but cuts the FAA's overall budget by 5 percent.

The measure does not include controversial labor provisions or cuts to the flight subsidies for rural airports that held up the last round of FAA funding this summer.

An impasse in Congress over the current extension led to the agency being partially shut down for 13 days in August. About 4,000 workers were furloughed, and an estimated 70,000 construction workers were placed out of work.