"Under the terms of our statute, the FAAs proposed change takes effect as of today, and we will begin the process of implementing our proposal," said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey on Monday, setting in motion a new era in the long history of FAA relations with its air traffic controllers. Not since the days of the strike under President Reagan has the situation been so tense. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) wanted the FAA to wait until a bill in Congress was voted on -- a bill that would have suspended the deadline and sent both parties back to the bargaining table. Last night that vote was held ... and fell short of the required two-thirds tally by nine votes. Even if the bill had passed, quotes from the White House suggest President Bush would have vetoed it. "Legislative intervention now could increase the pay of federal workers who are already on average the highest paid in government, increase pressure on the deficit, and displace funding for modernization of the air traffic control system," the Bush White House said in a statement earlier this week, The Washington Post reported. The FAA also opposed the legislative effort. "We do not support changing the rules in the 11th hour and we do not support taking away from Congress a decision that will have significant budget consequences for the agency," FAA spokesman Geoffrey Basye told AVweb on Tuesday. "This is why, in accordance with statute, we announced yesterday that we will move forward with implementing our last and best contract offer, which will raise the current average salary and benefits from $165,900 to $187,000."