FAA remains in partial shutdown as Senate fails to act on funding impasse

Posted Aug. 02, 2011, at 8:26 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 02, 2011, at 8:54 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Senate adjourned without resolving a funding standoff that has left the Federal Aviation Administration in partial shutdown for more than a week.

The failure came despite a flurry of last-minute activity Tuesday and urgings from President Barack Obama that the standoff be resolved. Obama called it “another Washington-inflicted wound on America.”

But with Congress not expected to return until September, nearly 4,000 “non-essential” FAA employees are likely to remain furloughed without pay and many more employees of private contractors will be without work. The agency is losing $250 million a week while the standoff continues.

“We are smack dab in the middle of the construction season,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Tuesday. “In Congress we’ve heard many grandiose speeches about putting people to work. This isn’t the way to do it.”

House Democrats highlighted this, as they pivoted to talking about jobs Tuesday.

“There is little that’s any more important to job creation in rural communities than these small airports,” said Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina in a news conference with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.

The House passed a temporary extension two weeks ago, adding a rider to what is typically a routine measure. The Senate refused to pass the bill by the deadline, because the rider would have eliminated subsidies to 13 rural airports, including some in the home states of key Senate leaders.

The FAA has been operating on temporary extensions since 2007, when the last FAA reauthorization expired. Since then, 20 extensions have been passed while Democrats and Republicans attempt to hammer out a deal over remaining facets of the larger bill.

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