White House to Boehner: Get the FAA Extended By the End of the Week UPDATED: Deal Reached
The President called John Boehner and asked him to end the standoff over the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) by passing an extension by the end of the week.
“Obama called Boehner yesterday, and said this is one thing we can do for job creation pretty instantly,” Carney told reporters Thursday. “It’s not resolved, and it needs to be resolved, and we’re hopeful that it will by the end of the week.”
A resolution by the weekend is an ambitious goal unless the two sides are making progress in behind-the-scenes negotiations. Publicly, House Republicans and Democrats appear more entrenched then ever.
Indeed, House Republicans are digging in. They passed an extension of the FAA authorization as a place-holder for the final conference report, but it included policy riders. Republicans want to focus on one and Democrats on the other. Republicans say that they merely want to extend the authorization by “removing pork,” which is actually subsidies for Essential Air Service that allows rural airports to stay open and rural residents to get their mail (who knew that Republicans hated rural America so much?). Democrats counter that the real issue is a change to the National Mediation Board’s rules for union elections that will protect Delta Airlines from allowing their workers to organize.
By blaming him for trying to protect a rural airport in Nevada, Reid said Republicans were trying to obfuscate the real issue — their attempt to reverse the board’s rule change — to benefit Delta Airlines, the only major airline that has yet to be unionized.
Reid said he was willing to close the airport in Nevada to take that issue off the table, but Republicans refused to agree because they wanted to force the Senate to include the anti-union language.
Schumer also didn’t hesitate to use even more violent language to describe the Republicans’ tactics despite criticism over the past days of Democrats who accused the GOP of acting like “terrorists” during the debt crisis.
“It’s as if someone is holding a gun to your head and saying give me your money….,” he said. “You can hurt innocent people by not getting your own way.”
The White House is still floating above this fight, calling on “Washington” and “Congress” to resolve their differences rather than take a position one way or the other. Of course, every time the President takes a position, Republicans line up immediately on the opposite side, so I imagine the White House is taking the “don’t bait the bear” approach here. Not that this has been a winning approach most of the time.
UPDATE: And just as I write this, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that a deal has been reached to end the standoff, at least temporarily.
“I am pleased to announce that we have been able to broker a bipartisan compromise between the House and the Senate to put 74,000 transportation and construction workers back to work,” the Nevada Democrat said in a statement. “This agreement does not resolve the important differences that still remain. But I believe we should keep Americans working while Congress settles its differences, and this agreement will do exactly that.”
The first report I heard is that the Senate is going to pass the House version of the short-term extension, with the cut to rural airport subsidies. Working on confirmation…
…The short-term extension that will be passed, in all likelihood, has those cuts to rural airport subsidies but not the anti-labor provisions. The Senate, incidentally, supported those rural subsidy cuts. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) claims the union provisions aren’t in the short-term extension. This will appear to end with the Senate passing the House’s extension. But of course, a long-term deal will still have to be reached.
…Wow, this is so Washington. Here’s the deal:
The deal will involve the Senate accepting the House FAA bill, but after the measure is signed into law, then Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood will use waiver authority in that bill to waive the Essential Air Service provisions as they impact a small number of airports.
Basically, that is a “clean” extension of the FAA authorization legislation, which means Congress will return after Labor Day to fight on these issues again.
So each side can say they got what they wanted.
UPDATE: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s statement:
This is a tremendous victory for American workers everywhere. From construction workers to our FAA employees, they will have the security of knowing they are going to go back to work and get a paycheck – and that’s what we’ve been fighting for. We have the best aviation system in the world and we intend to keep it that way.