Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Randy Babbitt and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood have called upon Congress to extend the deadline for the FAA’s current reauthorization bill, which expires on July 22. Failing to do so could delay numerous airport construction projects and put thousands of people out of jobs, the aviation officials assert.
“Congress needs to stop playing games, work out its differences, and pass a clean FAA bill immediately. There is no excuse for not getting this done,” LaHood said in a statement. “Important programs and construction projects are at stake. This stalemate must be resolved.”
Babbitt shares LaHood’s sentiments. “We are going to be forced to furlough valuable FAA employees unless this situation is resolved quickly,” he remarked. “These employees do everything from getting money out the door for airport construction projects, to airport safety planning and NextGen research. We need them at work.”
In fact, LaHood and Babbitt assert, roughly 4,000 airline workers will be furloughed on July 23 if Congress refuses to extend the legislation. What’s more, projects at the Virginia-based Richmond International Airport, the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the Mississippi-based Gulfport Biloxi International Airport and Laredo International Airport in Texas will be shelved if the government doesn’t grant a full-year extension.
A host of other organizations have lobbied Congress as well. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, through its president Veda Shook, said that “failing to fund our nation’s transportation system is tragically shortsighted and irresponsible. It is time to end the assault on workers and move forward on this important bill.” The issue holding up the bill, she said, is a Republican labor provision that allegedly attacks workers’ rights.
Marion Bailey, president of The Aerospace Industries Association, said that “if the House and Senate cannot work out their differences on a full reauthorization bill in the time remaining, another short-term extension should be passed.”
Fortunately, history is on the FAA’s side: Congress has already extended its authorities 20 times.