Obama Signs FAA Funding Extension
After several days of back and forth bickering, the partisan dispute over temporary funding for the Federal Aviation Administration has been resolved:
President Obama signed a temporary funding extension for the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday, ending a two-week impasse that left the agency in a partial shutdown. The move allows roughly 4,000 FAA employees to return to work Monday.
The measure, passed by the Senate on Friday morning, also puts an estimated 70,000 construction workers back to work on a number of stalled airport projects, and reauthorizes the FAA to collect airline ticket taxes.
The bill, which extends funding for the FAA until Sept. 16, was passed quietly on a near-empty Senate floor through a procedural maneuver known as unanimous consent.
Most members of Congress have left town for summer recess and are not due back until after Labor Day. The procedure allows a bill to be passed with just a couple senators present, provided there are no objections filed. The entire process took less than a minute.
The president, who put pressure on congressional leaders to resolve the issue by the end of the week, expressed relief. “This impasse was an unnecessary strain on local economies across the country at a time when we can’t allow politics to get in the way of our economic recovery,” he said in a statement.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who spent much of the last two weeks cajoling Congress to act, said he would work with lawmakers to provide back pay to furloughed employees. “I’m thrilled for our dedicated FAA employees who will be able to go back to work on Monday,” wrote LaHood on his blog, Fast Lane.
As part of the agreement, the Senate agreed to the House-passed version of a temporary extension, which included a rider provision that would cut government subsidies to 13 rural airports. LaHood could issue waivers to those airports, allowing the subsidies to continue. “I have received assurances from Secretary LaHood that the rural communities whose economies rely on air service will be protected,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in a statement.
So, in addition to the budget, renewing the gas tax, establishing the debt ceiling super-committee, and passing a Fiscal Year 2012 Budget, Congress has this to deal with when they return after Labor Day.