"The FAA authorization I helped pass as chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee in 2003 — a four-year measure — expired in 2007," wrote Mica, whose Florida district stretches just south of Jacksonville. "For the four years since, our nation's aviation system and programs have been left without updated federal policy, project authorizations or important advances in safety initiatives.
"Do not buy the Democrat line that this extension included any labor provisions when in fact it only addressed pork-laden subsidies for a handful of airports," Mica continued. "The American people and I are tired of Congress' inaction in addressing important policy issues. I am determined to do everything possible to help move important legislation forward, whether it's the long-term FAA reauthorization, a surface transportation reauthorization, or any other measures to benefit our nation's infrastructure."
About 4,000 FAA workers were furloughed for nearly two weeks recently when the House and Senate could not agree on a funding bill for the agency.
Democrats accused Mica of inserting cuts to subsidies for flights to rural airports in an act of political retribution for their objection to labor provisions that have stalled a long-term funding bill for the agency.
After 13 days, lawmakers reached an agreement to end the FAA shutdown by having the Senate pass the House bill that contained the cuts — and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood waive the airports from cuts.
The shutdown was projected to have cost the federal government $30 million in taxes on airline ticket purchases the FAA was not authorized to collect during the impasse.
Transportation observers said the shutdown also put about 70,000 additional employees out of work because about 200 airport construction projects were stalled.
The bill ending the furloughs only funds the FAA through Sept. 16, so lawmakers will have to visit the issue when they return from their traditional August recess.