Liberals hit GOP Rep. Mica for taking credit for FAA grant

A liberal advocacy group is criticizing House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) for touting grants from the Federal Aviation Administration to an airport in his district after a Congressional fracas involving him shut the agency down this summer. 

The Washington, D.C. Center for American Progress criticized Mica on its Think Progress blog for taking credit for a grant for runaway expansion the FAA awarded to Orlando's Sanford International Airport. The organization accused Mica of engineering the shutdown and then turning around and lauding $10.6 million the FAA sent to his central Florida district.

"Evidently believing that everyone has forgotten the contempt that he showed for the FAA, Mica is touting an FAA grant to the airport in his district," the organization said on its blog. 

"Of course, just a few months ago Mica seemed far more concerned with union-busting, and doing the bidding of some of his biggest campaign contributors, than in the FAA’s ability to generate economic activity and jobs," the blog continued.

The FAA was shutdown for nearly two weeks in late July and early August when lawmakers could not agree on a short-term extension of its funding. The shutdown resulted in about 4,000 workers being furloughed for 13 days, and was projected to have cost the federal government about $30 million per day in lost sales taxes on airline ticket purchases.

About 70,000 construction workers were also estimated to have been put out-of-work because more than 200 airport projects were stalled during the FAA shutdown. 

A spokesman for Mica said the chairman's goal remains completing legislative work on an FAA reauthorization bill. The spokesman also criticized the Think Progress blog. 

"Among other things, this blog conveniently ignores the fact that the Senate's two weeks of inaction on the previous House-passed FAA extension, which contained no labor-related provisions whatsoever, led to the partial shutdown of FAA," the spokesman said in a statement.

In statement released by his office on Sept. 29, about a month-and-a-half after the shutdown ended, Mica lauded the FAA's grant to the Orlando airport to expand the facility 9L runway.

“Orlando Sanford International Airport is a significant contributor to the local economy of Seminole County,” Mica said in a statement then. “By acquiring the land to improve and expand the runway at the airport, we can bring in newer quieter passenger aircraft and improve safety. This will further allow us to expand business and economic activity at the airport, creating more jobs for the region.”

This story was posted at 12:15 p.m  and updated at 12:43 p.m.