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Senate Adjourns Without Passing FAA Bill; Agency to Partially Shutdown

FAA(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate has officially adjourned for the weekend without passing the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill -- meaning that at midnight Friday there will be a partial shutdown of the aviation agency.

The FAA’s current funding will expire Friday night at midnight -- without Congress approving new funding legislation. Approximately 4,000 FAA employees will be furloughed, including employees who collect taxes from airlines and construction workers assigned to airport projects. The shutdown does not impact air traffic controllers.

Legislators have been at an impasse for months over two provisions in legislation that would extend the agency’s funding, the labor provision in the bill, which would make it harder for transportation workers to unionize and the elimination of $16 million in government subsidies for 13 small rural airports.

The Senate would not approve the House-passed FAA extension.  Late Friday afternoon the Senate “hotlined” a clean extension substitute amendment.

“I just want to say in all fairness and all honesty, for goodness sakes, to both sides, we believe you save that battle to another day,” Senator Durbin, D-Ill., said on the Senate floor when introducing the amendment. “What I’m offering is neutrality, political neutrality, a clean extension, but what I’m afraid I’m going to get back is an insistence if you don't take the House Republican proposal, we'll shut it down.”

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said that the Republicans want to make clear that  a long-term FAA reauthorization is a priority -- and noted that with the House of Representatives already adjourned for the weekend there’d be no way to pass Durbin’s amendment.

Hatch said then the only way to prevent a disruption of the FAA funding is to pass the bill already passed in the House this week. Democrats are opposed to that bill.

“The House Republicans have gone home, they're gone,” Durbin exclaimed. “They sent this over and said, take it or leave it or close it down. That’s not a very sound choice for our country. I’m sorry that the senator from Utah objected to a clean extension of this so that we could keep up these operations. I object to this because I don't believe it's a fair approach.”

So the Senate adjourned themselves without any action on this.

Senator Durbin said that to give people “peace of mind,” this shutdown will not have an impact on air traffic control and the safety of the nation’s airlines.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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