August 02, 2011

Republicans Go on Vacation While FAA Aviation Experts and Construction Crews go without Paychecks

—Republicans Skip Town Stranding Nearly 90,000 American Workers, Furloughing 3,600 FAA Aviation Experts, Jeopardizing Over $11 Billion in Contracts, Losing over $1 Billion in Revenue—

Washington, D.C.– Despite last minute pleas by House Democrats to solve the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shutdown, House Republican leaders closed up shop for the month of August, ensuring the devastating damage from the Republican-led FAA shutdown will last for at least another month.

“House Republicans decided to go on vacation early when we should have stuck around to solve this senseless shutdown,” said U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall, top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  “Unwilling to compromise from their rigid “my way or the runway” shotgun approach to negotiating at gunpoint, Republicans have made it crystal clear that purchasing a few political points for Tea Party extremists is worth jeopardizing nearly 90,000 American jobs and sacrificing over $1 billion in lost revenue.”

Rahall and Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Jerry Costello (D-IL) yesterday called on House Republican Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) to keep Congress in session for as long as necessary to solve the shutdown before Congress adjourned for August.  Republicans refused their request and instead chose to continue the $30 million per day shutdown.

“Make no mistake about it – House Republican leaders had the ability to end this senseless shutdown and put tens of thousands of American back to work,” said Rahall.  “Republicans recklessly chose to continue the $30 million per day shutdown instead of trying to get construction crews back on the clock.”

Every Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee joined together last week to introduce the “Aviation Jobs and Safety Act of 2011” (H.R. 2644), a clean FAA extension bill that would authorize the aviation programs through the end of Fiscal Year 2011 (September 30, 2011).  The clean extension, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation and a wide variety of organizations, would help turn the lights back on at the FAA while a long-term reauthorization is finalized.

“Before heading home early for vacation, Republicans made clear last night that their refusal to end the senseless shutdown was about its ideological assault on the American worker and has little to do with rural airport service,” said Rahall.  “For the construction workers who are going without a paycheck or the small business whose contract hangs in the balance, this is not a game.”

Pending enactment of a long-term FAA reauthorization bill, Congress has passed 20 short-term extension acts without controversial policy provisions since 2007.  Breaking with precedent, the 21st short-term extension that the House Republican leadership crafted and the House passed last week contained extraneous policy riders that had not been agreed upon in advance.  Despite being warned that such provisions could not pass the Senate, Republican leaders chose to attach these provisions to a must-pass, short-term funding extension and forced a partial FAA shutdown at a cost of $200 million per week in lost revenue.