Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Aviation Administration Administrator (FAA) Randy Babbitt called on Congress to pass a clean extension of the FAA’s authorization in order to avoid airport project construction delays and employee furloughs. The current FAA reauthorization expires at midnight this Friday, July 22, 2011.
LaHood and Babbitt said they oppose the House bill because it includes controversial provisions that needlessly threaten critical FAA programs and jeopardize thousands of public and private sector jobs.
“Congress needs to stop playing games, work out its differences, and pass a clean FAA bill immediately. There is no excuse for not getting this done,” said Secretary LaHood. “Important programs and construction projects are at stake. This stalemate must be resolved.”
LaHood also said, “I want to reassure the flying public that, during this period, safety will not be compromised.”
“We are going to be forced to furlough valuable FAA employees unless this situation is resolved quickly,” said FAA Administrator Babbitt. “These employees do everything from getting money out the door for airport construction projects, to airport safety planning and NextGen research. We need them at work.” If Congress does not extend the FAA’s authorities approximately 4,000 employees will be furloughed beginning Saturday July 23, 2011. Without the appropriate authority, taxes will not be deposited into the Trust Fund to pay some FAA employees.
Employees who are paid out of the Trust Fund handle a variety of functions including: airport safety and engineering standards; airport safety planning; the Airport Improvement Program, which administers construction project grants to airports; and Research, Engineering, and Development, which includes NextGen research and testing.
Congress has extended the FAA’s authorization 20 separate times.
Without a full year extension, FAA will be unable to move forward on more than $600 million in airport construction projects that include good paying jobs for local communities across the country, the DOT said.