Senate Temporarily Ends FAA Shutdown

Following a legislative deal on Thursday, the Senate has passed legislation to temporarily restore full funding to the Federal Aviation Administration, CNN reports. The new legislation, which President Barack Obama is expected to sign shortly, will allow approximately 4,000 furloughed employees to return to work.

The legislative impasse is not over, however; Congress will have to visit the issue again within six weeks in order to avoid another lapse in funding. Democrats and Republicans remain divided over whether or not to continue providing subsidies to smaller rural airports, as well as voting policies regarding the unionization of airline employees.

Under older unionization rules, 50 percent of all eligible workers would need to vote “yes” to pass a measure to unionize, regardless of whether or not the eligible workers actually voted. In effect, refusing to vote was the same as voting no. A recent ruling by the National Mediation Board, however, made it so that only 50 percent of the workers who actually voted needed to vote yes in order for a unionization measure to pass, making unionization significantly easier.

Because of the lapse in the FAA reauthorization, the FAA has been unable to collect certain airline taxes on flights after the authorization lapsed. In addition, more than 4,000 workers were furloughed and many airport construction projects put on hold. Air travel industry officials were divided in their response to the lapse in airline taxes, with Delta being the first member of the Air Transport Association (ATA) to offer refunds on the lapsed taxes.

Officials in the travel industry and government, including Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, had been vehement in calling for the restoration of FAA funding, citing concerns over the economic impact of the lapse.

Read’s full story on the new legislation here.