By Bob Cusack - 08/03/11 02:42 PM EDT
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Wednesday blamed “one or two people who wouldn’t compromise” for the impasse in Congress that has led to a partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration.
LaHood, a Republican who served in the House, called in to C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” show to rip Congress for not passing an FAA reauthorization bill before recessing for the summer. LaHood did not specify the one or two people he was talking about, but praised Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for putting aside his state and ego to resolve the stalemate. He said Reid was willing to move a House-passed bill through the Senate even though it would have cut funding for an airport in Nevada.
Throughout the interview, LaHood pointed the finger at Republicans for being “stubborn,” saying the failure of Congress has led to the loss of 4,000 jobs at the FAA and 70,000 construction employees stopping work.
Asked if there is any chance there could be a breakthrough before next month, an exasperated LaHood said, “The answer is no.” He explained that an act of Congress is needed, adding that unanimous consent would be required in the House and Senate. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has indicated he won’t let that happen, LaHood claimed.
But a spokesman for Boehner said Wednesday that the problem was the Democratic-controlled Senate.
“The only reason 80,000 jobs are at stake is that Senate Democratic Leaders chose to play politics rather than keep their word and pass the House bill,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement. “That’s indefensible, and they should end this crisis immediately.”
LaHood suggested he would be spending August criticizing Congress in the hopes that the situation will be quickly resolved when lawmakers return in September.
He repeatedly mocked legislators for going on “their vacation” and not adhering to their own rhetoric on jobs.
While pointing out that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and other Senate Republicans objected to a unanimous-consent request on the FAA bill Tuesday, LaHood praised Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) for her work on the measure.
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