Department of Transportation and Congress Clash Over FAA Extension

Both Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt expressed disappointment after Congress adjourned on Friday July 22 without passing a FAA reauthorization extension. The adjournment raised a host of questions for airlines, agents and travelers as well as the FAA.

“I’m very disappointed that Congress adjourned today without passing a clean extension of the FAA bill,” said Department of Transportation Secretary LaHood. “Because of their inaction, states and airports won’t be able to work on their construction projects, and too many people will have to go without a paycheck. This is no way to run the best aviation system in the world.”

The current FAA reauthorization expired at midnight, Friday, July 22. Congress has extended the FAA’s authorization 20 separate times without controversy, DOT noted.

Without an extension, the FAA will be forced to furlough nearly 4,000 employees and will be unable to move forward on airport construction projects and other critical airport activities, the FAA said.

While this lapse in FAA’s authorization affects thousands of public and private sector jobs, it is important to note that the safety of the flying public will not be compromised, the FAA said.

“The FAA employees who will be furloughed perform critical work for our nation’s aviation system and our economy,” said FAA Administrator Babbitt. “These are real people with families who do not deserve to be put out of work during these tough economic times.”

Additionally, the FAA will be forced to withhold money for states and individual airports as a result of the lapse in authorization. "We are working diligently with Congress to resolve this unfortunate situation, and apologize for the hardship this situation may cause for our employees and our stakeholders," the FAA said.