After two weeks of finger pointing and blame game in Congress, the Senate on Friday approved a short term extension of the underlying law that authorizes the Federal Aviation Administration, getting 4,000 furloughed workers back to their jobs, along with thousands of workers on construction projects at various airports.
Only two Senators were on the floor as approval was given to a House-passed bill to keep the FAA operating through September 16, as Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) made the necessary unanimous consent request on the floor of the Senate.
Mr. Webb: Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to consideration of Calendar No. 109, H.R. 2553, the bill be read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate, and any statements related to the bill be placed in the Record at the appropriate place, as if read.
Republicans in the House blasted the Senate for the delay, and vowed to keep up the pressure for changes in the FAA bill that will save taxpayer dollars. This was the statement of House Transporation Committee Chair Rep. John Mica (R-FL):
“The American people have witnessed firsthand how truly difficult it is to bring about even modest reforms and cut wasteful programs in Washington, like $3,720 individual airline ticket subsidies.
“After an absolutely unnecessary two-week delay, and after having imposed hardship on FAA employees, airport construction workers, and the American economy, the partial shutdown of our aviation industry will end.
“It’s vital that the House and Senate leaderships and respective committees, in the next several weeks, work to ensure the end of a 4 ½ year delay in passing a long-term FAA bill so there will be no need for a 22nd extension.
“If the Senate refuses to negotiate on the few remaining issues, they can be assured that every tool at our disposal will be utilized to ensure a long-term bill is signed into law.
“The FAA and our aviation system are too important to the American economy to be left behind, particularly when the economy desperately needs our help.
“Once again, it’s unfortunate and unfair that a few in the Senate would unnecessarily leave thousands of workers behind for the last two weeks.”
As for President Obama, he issued a statement this afternoon thanking Congress for settling the dispute, at least for now:
I'm pleased that Congress has passed an agreement which will allow tens of thousands of people to return to their jobs rebuilding runways and working on construction projects all over America, while removing the uncertainty hanging over the jobs of thousands of hardworking FAA employees. This impasse was an unnecessary strain on local economies across the country at a time when we can’t allow politics to get in the way of our economic recovery. So I’m glad that this stalemate has finally been resolved.