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Entries in Shutdown (3)

Thursday
Sep152011

Another FAA Partial Shutdown to Come? Senate in Stalemate

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The current funding for the Federal Aviation Administration expires this Friday, threatening to put 80,000 people out of work by Saturday, unless Congress sends a bill to President Obama.

But as of now, the bill does not have a way forward in the Senate with both sides pointing fingers at the other party, one Republican Senator standing in the way of anything moving forward, and the Senate majority leader all-but calling that Republican Senator a “dictator” for holding up the bill.

The House of Representatives passed a joint bill Tuesday to continue temporary funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and federal highway, transit and highway safety programs.  Now in the Senate, the bill is being objected to by one Republican: Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who is upset over the funding that states must invest in surface transportation as part of the Highway bill, which is tied to the FAA bill.

But to make matters more confusing and head-shaking, the Senate’s $6.9 billion package to fund FEMA is also being dragged into this debate because of the Senate floor procedure.  The Senate on Tuesday passed a cloture motion to proceed on the disaster aid bill, meaning procedurally the FEMA bill must be passed first.  This basically puts a hold on the FAA/highway bill until FEMA is fully passed.  But, some Republicans, including Coburn have concerns over the FEMA bill, too.

As of now, unless Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., were to set aside the FEMA bill and call up the FAA bill, which he likely will not do, the FAA bill is being held up, forced to be addressed second.  The FAA bill though has a deadline of Friday evening, when funds will run out.

Wednesday on the Senate floor, without naming names but clearly targeting Coburn, Reid likened his actions to a dictator in threatening to hold up the bill.

“We’re told this is going to be held up by the Republicans,” Reid bemoaned.  “The Senator says he doesn’t want to vote.  He just wants to hold the bill up.  He said if we put in what we got from the house and stuck his provision in that, I think he would be happy.  I guess anyone would, madam president.  It’s a pretty good way to legislate around here, be a dictator and say either take this or leave it that.”

Coburn is concerned about the programs designed to increase bike lanes and green space on the roads -- which is part of the transportation bill -- and wants the funds taken out.  The senator wants states to be able to opt out of the transportation enhancement mandate, and to have that change written into the bill.

Reid warned that if the FAA funding expires on Friday there will be about 80,000 people out of work by Saturday: 4,000 out of work for the FAA and about 70,000 who are working on airport construction jobs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul222011

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

Tuesday
Jul052011

Minnesota Government Shutdown: Neither Side Budging

DC Productions/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A bipartisan commission of former lawmakers was appointed Tuesday to seek a way around the budget impasse that has shut down the state of Minnesota.

But while the commission starts work to find a compromise to get the state's 20,000 employees back to work and reopen state parks, former Minnesota governor and current Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty encouraged Republicans to stand strong and launched a new campaign ad touting his role as governor in 2005's 10-day stalemate.

"Minnesota government shutdown. Why? Because Tim Pawlenty would not accept Democrats' massive tax and spending demands. Result: Pawlenty won," the ad boasts.

That shutdown was six years ago, but once again the North Star State's government has come to a screeching halt. As the current impasse entered its fifth day Tuesday, some of the state's leading politicians on both sides of the aisle weighed in on the problem.

While Pawlenty bragged about his work in the 2005 impasse and suggested the current stoppage is good for the state, former Vice President Walter Mondale -- a Democrat -- and former governor Arne Carlson -- a Republican -- started a committee to find a solution by week's end. The bipartisan panel will come up with "a third approach," Carlson told reporters, according to Bloomberg News.

In the state capital of St. Paul, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton was set to meet with the Republican leaders of Minnesota's GOP-controlled legislature. At issue is how to deal with the state's projected $5 billion deficit over the next two years. To reduce the shortfall, one of Dayton's proposals involves raising taxes on the rich, a move Republicans have opposed.

Dayton demanded that Republicans drop their focus on policies involving abortion and stem cell research and instead focus on "the fiscal side of things."

Amid all the partisan bickering, the shutdown continues -- with serious consequences for the Midwestern state. More than 20,000 state employees are now without work. State parks are shuttered. Construction projects paused. Highway rest areas are closed.

"This is a terrible situation," Dayton said.

The deadlock in Minnesota could be a preview of things to come in Washington. Lawmakers in the nation's capital are currently divided on how to raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, while at the same time reaching an agreement to reduce the country's deficits going forward.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio