Advocates cheer extension of FAA, highway funding

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The union for air traffic controllers, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, agreed.

"We applaud the Senate's action to keep 4,000 FAA employees on the job who contribute so much critical work in ensuring and improving the safety of our airspace system," NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said in a statement. "The engineers, architects, airport safety inspectors and other safety-related professionals affected by this bill will now get to continue working on projects such as safer approaches for aircraft into Newark Airport and improvements to make runways safer in Boston and Baltimore. We urge Congress to now complete work on a long-term FAA reauthorization bill."

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood weighed in as well, saying, "Passing this legislation keeps hundreds of thousands of men and women on the job.   

"The hundreds of thousands of workers on road and transit project job sites across America will all breathe a little easier this weekend without the threat of a shutdown looming over them," LaHood wrote Friday on his "Fast Lane" blog on the Department of Transportation website. "And our valuable professionals at the FAA will be able to go about their business of modernizing our airports and researching new and better ways to run the best aviation system in the world."

Kavinoky urged lawmakers to focus now on larger bills for both aviation and highway programs. The chambers have proposed vastly different versions of both, with the House suggesting a six-year, $235 billion bill for highways and approving a four-year, $59 billion bill for the FAA. By contrast, the Senate has suggested a two-year, $109 billion bill for highways and approved a two-year, $34 billion for the FAA.

The long-term FAA measure has been held up by an effort in the House bill to undo rules adopted by the National Mediation Board to make it easier for transportation workers to unionize.

The provisions drew sharp objections from Democrats in the Senate, and President Obama issued a veto threat.

LaHood focused his attention on Obama's proposed jobs bill, dubbed the American Jobs Act. He said now that Congress has passed the FAA highway funding extension, it should move quickly on the jobs bill.

"Our nation deserves a transportation network that once again allows American businesses to compete and win," he said. "I thank Congress for allowing the professionals at DOT to continue their important work. And I urge members to turn their attention to the American Jobs Act. Let's put people back to work."