FAA Shutdown to Continue as Congress Leaves

The Senate recessed on Tuesday until September, erasing any possibility for quickly resolving the issue. The House left Monday night.


"Republicans are playing reckless games with airline safety," Reid said in a statement. "We should not let ideology interfere with making sure that Americans' air travel runs as smoothly and safely as possible."

Underlying the subsidy dispute, was a broader, more politically-charged dispute over a labor provision inserted by House Republicans into a separate, long-term FAA funding bill. The FAA's last long-term funding bill expired in 2007. Since then, Congress has been unable to agree on a long-term plan. The agency has continued to operate under a series of 20 short-term extensions.

Democrats said the air services cuts were being used as leverage to force them to give in to the House on a labor provision, which the White House has said Obama would veto. They see the provision as part of a national effort by Republicans, both in Congress and in state capitals, to undermine organized labor.

The provision would overturn a National Mediation Board rule approved last year that allows airline and railroad employees to form a union by a simple majority of those voting. Under the old rule, workers who didn't vote were treated as "no" votes.

Democrats and union officials say the change puts airline and railroad elections under the same democratic rules required for unionizing all other companies. But Republicans complain that the new rule reverses 75 years of precedent to favor labor unions.

"Democrats have to decide if they are going to be the handmaidens of the labor unions in every policy," Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Senate GOP leader, told reporters. "Every now and then they should put the American people first instead of their constituency."

The 13 cities targeted for air service subsidy cuts are Athens, Ga.; Morgantown, W.Va.; Glendive, Mont.; Alamogordo, N.M.; Ely, Nev.; Jamestown, N.Y.; Bradford, Pa.; Hagerstown, Md.; Jonesboro, Ark.; Johnstown, Pa.; Franklin/Oil City, Pa.; Lancaster, Pa., and Jackson, Tenn.


Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

We Recommend