FAA Demands Funding Bill Before Recess
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined together on Monday to "demand that Congress pass an FAA funding bill before getting on airplanes to fly away for vacation," according to an FAA news release. The two officials joined with local contractors and construction workers at LaGuardia Airport to make their announcement. "Congress needs to do its job for the good of these workers, for the good of our economy and for the good of America's aviation system," said LaHood. Without reauthorization from Congress, the FAA is unable to spend roughly $2.5 billion for airport projects in all 50 states. Those projects "could put thousands of people to work in good-paying jobs," the FAA said. Nearly 4,000 FAA employees have been furloughed and an estimated 70,000 workers in construction and related fields have been affected.
The FAA's previous extension expired at midnight on Friday, July 22. Since then, more than 200 "stop-work orders" have been issued for airport construction projects and contracts around the country. The FAA said "the flying public will be unaffected and safety will not be compromised," however, stopping work on these projects will increase the ultimate costs of construction and could delay important programs. "Every day this goes on, we fall further behind," Babbitt said. "We need our 4,000 FAA employees and tens of thousands of construction workers back on the job so we can get critical projects moving again while it's still construction season. Congress must act quickly before leaving for the August recess." Congress is scheduled to be in recess August 8 to September 5.