Posted on August 4th, 2011
Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced this afternoon that Congress has reached a bipartisan compromise that will allow temporary funding of the FAA through mid-September and end a two-week partial shutdown of the agency. “This agreement does not resolve the important differences that still remain,” Reid noted in a written statement, “but I believe we should keep Americans working while Congress settles its differences, and this agreement will do exactly that.” Without the compromise, nearly 4,000 FAA employees and more than 70,000 construction workers would have remained off the job at least until Congress returns from its August recess in early September. In a hastily called news conference yesterday, Senate Democrats accused Republicans of holding the nation hostage over the budget impasse. Later in the day, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood implored lawmakers to return from vacations that many of them had already started, and at a White House Cabinet meeting soon after, President Obama called the standoff “another Washington-inflicted wound.” When Congress failed to agree on an extension of the FAA’s operating authority by midnight July 22, the agency immediately furloughed non-safety critical workers and shuttered construction projects ranging from new control towers to the rehabilitation and modernization of air traffic facilities. Meanwhile, the standoff cost more than $200 million a week in lost revenues as the FAA was no longer authorized to collect ticket and fuel taxes.
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