LaHood: 'Congress needs to stop playing games' on FAA bill

The White House and Democrats in the House called Wednesday for the provisions to be removed and dealt with in negotiations over a long-term bill, which have become bogged down completely. But Republicans in the House proceeded with the vote they scheduled Wednesday, approving the bill on a 243-177 vote.

That means the FAA, which has been operating without a long-term authorization bill since 2007, is faced with the possibility of not getting its 21st short-term appropriations bill.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said Wednesday that if that happens, the agency would be forced to furlough workers.

“These employees do everything from getting money out the door for airport construction projects, to airport safety planning and NextGen research," Babbitt said in a statement. "We need them at work.”

The FAA has about 4,000 employees the agency said would be furloughed beginning Saturday if a deal is not reached.

With such a possible shutdown in mind, LaHood moved to assure travelers that the fractious debates about FAA funding in Washington Wednesday would not affect their trips.

“I want to reassure the flying public that, during this period, safety will not be compromised,” he said.