FAA Deadlock Continues; Reid Offers Boehner a Deal
Deals have apparently been reached on patent reform and trade agreements, two pieces of the this-won’t-create-jobs “jobs” agenda. But a third deal, which would avert the continued furlough of 74,000 Americans, has not yet been reached. The FAA remains in partial shutdown, with construction projects at airports all over the country sidelined and $30 million a day flowing into the pockets of the airlines rather than the US Treasury.
Harry Reid wrote a letter to John Boehner asking for a vote during one of the pro forma sessions of Congress in August to end the impasse and put those workers back on the job. He wants a clean extension, without riders on labor relations or rural airports, while the differences between the authorization bills already passed by both houses of Congress get negotiated. He used Kay Bailey Hutchison’s comments as a cudgel, and showed a willingness to deal on the final agreement:
We must resolve our differences through the normal legislative process. In the meantime, we need a clean, short term extension to get these people back to work. There is bipartisan support for this position. My colleague, Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said it best on the Senate floor yesterday: “We should not shut down the FAA because of a rider put on the extension of the FAA legislation that has not been negotiated. It is not honorable for the House to send an extraneous amendment.”
Just as we found compromise in recent days, we both know there is a path forward to end this impasse. I am personally willing to compromise on the essential air services issue during negotiations on the final bill, in order to pass a clean extension. It is also my hope that Republicans will relent on the controversial policy change that is narrowly targeted to benefit just one airline. I urge you to help us bring back to work more than 4,000 FAA employees – and the 70,000 contractors and construction workers – while we arrive at a consensus.
It’s completely absurd that we’re at this stage, mainly because of one man, Rep. John Mica (R-FL), who added a rider onto the extension, unlike the other 20 FAA extensions since 2007. The White House cannot bear to mention his name, but I don’t have such constraints. Meanwhile, this is what FAA civil engineer Neil Bolen is dealing with.
Bolen, a 48-year-old father of two from the Atlanta area, is one of thousands of Americans with ties to the aviation industry who are suddenly finding themselves out of work this summer because of Congress’s failure to pass routine legislation keeping the FAA funded. The House and Senate have gone on vacation, leaving Bolen on furlough.
He’s had no choice but to file for unemployment, prioritize which bills to pay, and dig into his family’s savings in order to make ends meet.
“Congress doesn’t care about me at all,” Bolen told CNN. “They’re not done with their work and they go on vacation. How do they do that?”
The anger from FAA workers is worth reading in that article. These are the kind of things that turn people off to government. In other words, they serve the long-term goals of the Republican Party, even though it’s the Republicans causing the mischief. In the absence of clear delineation of who is to blame, people will blame “Congress,” that abstract concept.