Mica: 'Every tool at our disposal will be utilized' in future FAA negotiations

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Mica said that when Congress comes back from its August recess, the timing of which had made it look as though the FAA would be shut down for a month, lawmakers should pass a longer bill for the beleaguered agency. 

But negotiations on the longer-term bill have been bogged down by a provision in the version that passed the House that would undo rules adopted by the National Mediation Board last year to make it easier for transportation workers to unionize.

The provisions drew a veto threat from President Obama, leading to the short-term deal that expired July 22 and launched the two-week shutdown. Transportation observers estimate the shutdown cost the federal government $30 million, as the FAA was not authorized to collect taxes on airline ticket sales.

Mica said Friday he was willing to play political hardball again when the issue comes back up in September.
 
“It’s vital that the House and Senate leaderships and respective committees, in the next several weeks, work to ensure the end of a four-and-a-half-year delay in passing a long-term FAA bill so there will be no need for a 22nd extension," he said. “If the Senate refuses to negotiate on the few remaining issues, they can be assured that every tool at our disposal will be utilized to ensure a long-term bill is signed into law.
 
“The FAA and our aviation system are too important to the American economy to be left behind, particularly when the economy desperately needs our help."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) criticized Mica's stance Friday, saying “Republicans like Rep. John Mica are already threatening to force these 74,000 Americans out of their jobs again when this extension expires on Sept. 16.

"With millions of Americans struggling, we cannot afford for Republicans to hold common-sense jobs bills hostage to the Tea Party's ideological agenda," Reid said in a statement released by his office. "I hope Republicans will come to their senses and put the interests of the middle class ahead of the Tea Party and favors for airline CEOs.”

"The hard-working men and women affected by this standoff should never have been furloughed in the first place," Reid continued. "They were out of work for two weeks because Republicans were holding their jobs hostage to try and jam through a favor for the CEO of one airline."

The FAA has not had a long-term authorization bill since 2007.

Under the agreement to end the shutdown, the Senate approved on Friday the House bill that includes cuts to rural flight service to airports in Nevada, West Virginia and Montana. But Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will use his authority to waive the airports from the cuts.

This post was updated with new information at 11:36 a.m.