Babbitt acknowledged the bad headlines the issue has caused for the FAA and, by extension, the Obama administration.
"I saw in the paper Sunday that I had the worst week in Washington," he said. "I was very disappointed. I actually have had the worst three weeks in Washington."
Babbitt also addressed the FAA reauthorization bill, which has passed both chambers of Congress, albeit in vastly different forms. Babbitt called it crucial that the FAA gets a long-term funding bill this year.
"It's difficult to run an agency when sometimes you're budgeting for weeks, not months," Babbitt said of the FAA, which has had 18 short-term funding extensions.
But Babbitt expressed concern about the level of funding in the House bill. The House version would give the FAA $59 billion over the next four years, while the Senate measure would appropriate $34.5 billion over two years.
The House measure also includes controversial union provisions that prompted a veto threat from President Obama. But Babbitt said the FAA was more concerned right now about the funding levels.
"I'm concerned funding at [the House] level would degrade safe and efficient movement" of passengers, he said.
FAA administrator: Culture of air traffic controllers won't change overnight
By Keith Laing - 04/27/11 03:48 PM EDT