Congress may vacate without funding FAA

Aug. 2, 2011 at 4:30 AM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- Congress will likely leave Washington for a month without resolving a funding standoff that partly shut down the Federal Aviation Administration, aides said.

The collapse of a bipartisan Senate plan to end the funding dispute could leave 4,000 furloughed FAA employees and about 70,000 laid-off airport construction workers without paychecks until after Labor Day, the aides said.

The aviation authority would also lose an estimated $1.2 billion in ticket-tax revenue, officials said.

"This just does not make sense," Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, told The Washington Post, breaking ranks with House and Senate Republicans.

"Is that fiscal responsibility? I don't think so," she said. "It doesn't pass the smell test."

The deadlock is over a ruling by the National Mediation Board -- an independent government agency that coordinates labor-management relations within the railroad and airline industries -- that favored union efforts to organize airlines.

Republicans want to reverse an NMB rule that union-organizing elections should be decided by a simple majority of those who vote, the Post said. Instead, they want to go back to a decades-old rule that says in airline union-organizing elections, the votes of eligible voters that are not cast should be counted as voting "no."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, denounced the agency for creating the simple-majority rule, calling the agency a "runaway National Mediation Board."

Hatch blocked a Democratic effort to extend FAA funding until September.

The Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House are also at odds over proposals to cut rural air-service subsidies.

House members began heading home Monday after passing the federal budget-debt bill and Senators were expected to follow suit Tuesday or Wednesday after they vote.

"Congress should not leave on its summer vacation until they finish an FAA [funding] bill," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Monday. "Don't hold hostage innocent people who are not getting their pay check."

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more news from
Related UPI Stories
share with facebook
share with twitter
Trending Stories