The Hostage-Taking Just Keeps Coming – This Time The FAA Shuts Down

Dave Johnson

The latest conservative hostage-taking involves a fight over unions and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) budget. Conservatives refuse to fund the FAA unless the Senate agrees to block airline and railroad unions from being able to organize. Result: the agency shuts down at midnight tonight.

The FAA’s funding reauthorization bill has been held up over Republican insistence that anti-union language be included. The specific language says that any working not voting in a union organization drive be counted as a vote not to for a union. (They are also eliminating funding for many small-town airports… in Democratic districts.) The House has passed this, the Senate refuses to, and since no bill has passed funding for the FAA dries up at midnight.

  • 4,000 FAA workers will be furloughed.
  • $2.5 billion worth of airport construction projects will be put on hold, those workers also furloughed. (87,000 American construction jobs.)
  • $200 million a week will be added to the deficit because airline ticket taxes won’t be collected.

But air traffic controllers will still be on the job and the airlines will still be flying. Republicans wouldn’t do anything to hamper big business, just working people.

Rachel Maddow explains:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood issued this statement (full statement here):

Key Airport Projects Across the Country in Jeopardy Unless Congress Passes an FAA Bill

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt today warned that new construction projects will not begin and many will be delayed if Congress is unable to work out its differences and pass a clean extension of the FAA Reauthorization bill.

“Congress needs to do its work. If they can’t pass a bill, local construction workers throughout the nation will see their projects and paychecks come to a halt. This is no way to run the best aviation system in the world,” said Secretary LaHood.

The current FAA reauthorization expires at midnight this Friday, July 22, 2011. Congress has extended the FAA’s authorization 20 separate times without controversy. Without an extension, FAA will be unable to move forward on important airport construction projects that include good paying jobs for local communities across the country.

The Airport Improvement Program, which provides construction project grants to airports, will be shut down and unable to provide roughly $2.5 billion for airport projects in all 50 states that could put thousands of people to work in good paying jobs. A detailed breakdown of this funding by state is below.

Other stories:

AFL-CIO Blog: Eliminating Workers’ Rights More Important to Republicans than Air Safety

Transportation Workers Union: FAA Faces Shutdown

Crooks and Liars: Tea Party Crazy Dominated GOP Threaten Aviation Safety While Engaging In Union Busting

Daily Kos Labor: How rural airports are being held hostage to Republican anti-union fervor

The Hill: FAA employees: Furloughs could impact air safety

House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Democratic Members: House Republican Leadership’s “My Way or the Runway” Shotgun Approach Causes Midnight FAA Shutdown. (Includes a breakdown of the 86,954 construction jobs lost, by state.)

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