The Washington Post

At $30M a day, FAA partial shutdown could cost more than program at center of dispute

(Cliff Owen/AP)

Think again.

A stalemate in Congress has led to a partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration, leading 4,000 workers to be furloughed and costing the agency $30 million a day.

Now in its fourth day, the shutdown – which has stemmed from a dispute over a program providing rural air service subsidies – means that the agency has been unable to collect the 7.5 percent-per-ticket tax on air travel, The Post’s Ashley Halsey III reports.

While party leaders and the White House have been engaged in theatrics for weeks in the country’s high-stakes debt-limit battle, both chambers’ failure to agree on a stopgap FAA funding extension before last week’s deadline underscores that even routine congressional actions have been gripped by the partisan paralysis at the heart of voters’ discontent with Washington.

It also highlights that such battles can often end up costing more than they’re worth.

The program lawmakers are wrangling over costs $163 million a year, meaning that by the time both chambers begin to take action – which could be Wednesday (Day 5 of the shutdown) at the earliest – the amount of money lost due to the impasse will nearly equal the annual cost of the program at the center of the dispute.

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