Democrats will introduce bill to end FAA shutdown

With no other movement to resolve a congressional stalemate over aviation funding, House Democrats on Tuesday said they would introduce a bill to restore funding for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Parts of the federal agency were shut down and 4,000 workers furloughed at midnight Friday when the House and Senate failed to reach agreement on stop-gap funding. The shutdown has cost the FAA an estimated $30 million a day in lost ticket-tax revenue.

Outnumbered by 33 to 26 on the House Transportation Committee, Democrats would need to win over GOP support to get their bill to the floor, where it would face serious head winds.

“Instead of negotiating at gunpoint and forcing the Senate to adopt its ideological assault on the American worker, House Republican leaders should end their senseless shutdown of the FAA by bringing this clean extension to the floor for a vote today while a long-term FAA reauthorization is finalized,” said the committee’s ranking member, Nick J. Rahall II (D-W.Va.).

Congress extended FAA funding levels 20 times after expiration of the agency’s last long-term funding authorization in 2007. Both houses passed new long-term bills this year, but staff members have yet to resolve differences over funding levels, funding longevity, a controversial labor provision, restrictions on flights at Reagan National Airport and subsidized commercial air service to rural airports.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) on Monday called on the House to join in a conference committee to resolve the issue. That invitation was rejected by House Transportation Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-Fla.)

Ashley Halsey reports on national and local transportation.
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