...Funding, Furlough Threats Repeated
If, as Martin predicts, the funding extension bill fails, then what happens if the full Reauthorization Bill isn't passed by Sept. 30? Another top FAA official is predicting thousands of furloughs and the halting of dozens of airport projects. "It's not something we're bluffing about," Woodie Woodward, the FAA's associate administrator for airports, told a conference of airport directors in Tampa on Tuesday, just before Rockefeller made his announcement. "It's a real dire situation." Although it appears that essential core services would be maintained, the furloughs would cut a broad swath through FAA offices throughout the country. Woodward said airspace redesign, environmental clearance and grant applications for airport projects would grind to a halt and safety inspections would be done by a skeleton crew. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, NATCA accused the FAA of posturing in front of the airport directors, noting that funding deadlines have been missed before without any interruption of service. In a statement Tuesday, NATCA President John Carr urged supporters to stand firm. "We must not allow the Bush administration to blackmail the Senate and House with airport shutdowns and furloughs only to pursue a political ideology," Carr said.