By Glenn Pew, Contributing Editor, Video Editor
That's it. Congress did not argue right up until a midnight Friday deadline, they did not agree on and pass a long- or short-term measure to provide funding for the FAA; instead, they went home. Now, it seems thousands of people who work for or are contracted by the FAA are about to be asked to do the same -- but without pay. If nothing changes, Saturday we'll begin to draw the lines between critical and non-critical FAA employees. Critical workers (i.e. air traffic controllers) will remain on the job, funded by an aviation trust fund. Workers deemed non-critical will be identified by their layoff notices. The latest funding measure was the 20th of its kind enacted in lieu of a long-term budget, because Congress has refused to agree on one of those, either.
FAA officials are expected to immediately halt airport construction projects and label safety planners, NextGen researchers, computer specialists and engineers as unemployable. Airlines will no longer collect federal ticket taxes, depriving the Airport and Airway Trust Fund of about $200 million each week. Furloughs could hit 35 states and shut down thousands of construction jobs. According to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, "states and airports won't be able to work on their construction projects, and too many people will have to go without a paycheck." While the House and Senate had previously approved short-term funding, new language introduced by the House would have eliminated subsidies for certain airports served by Essential Air Services funding and made it more difficult for airline workers to unionize. The Senate, which had agreed to other cuts, did not approve of those changes.