By Michael O'Brien - 08/03/11 04:33 PM EDT
The Obama administration urged Congress to return from its recess and pass clean legislation to end a partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
"Congress needs to come back, resolve their differences, compromise, and put our friends and neighbors back to work," LaHood said. "Take a little detour from their own vacation, come back to Washington, and pass a clean bill ... I am asking Congress to come back."
The hangups centers around subsidies for rural airports that House Republicans cut from a short-term funding measure, and rules changes that affect union members, which is included in a long-term funding proposal.
The secretary, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), urged the Senate to pass the House's short-term funding measure Tuesday — before senators left town — so that the 4,000 furloughed FAA workers could return to work. That effort failed.
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LaHood, a former Republican congressman from Illinois, has emerged as the administration's lead attack dog on the FAA legislation, functioning as a bridge between the administration's position and Republicans' position.
"They talk the talk but they have not walked the walk," he said. "Their speeches ring very hollow to 4,000 FAA employees who are furloughed."
Congress is in a pro-forma session, meaning that each chamber could pass a so-called "clean" bill by unanimous consent, without all the lawmakers having to return. LaHood said he had raised the request with Reid and Barry Jackson, the chief of staff to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
If Congress were to come back to work, it would be the second straight summer that the August recess has faced a brief interruption. Then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recalled Congress last summer to vote on a $26 billion bill aiding states.