Entries in FAA (12)


FAA Suspends Air Traffic Control Furloughs

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Aviation Administration announced Saturday that it is suspending employee furloughs and will restore normal staffing levels at air traffic facilities by Sunday evening, easing more than a week of major delays because of cutbacks in air traffic control.

“The FAA has suspended all employee furloughs. Air traffic facilities will begin to return to regular staffing levels over the next 24 hours and the system will resume normal operations by Sunday evening,” the FAA said in a statement.

On Friday, Congress passed legislation which provides the FAA with transfer authority for $253 million until October to restore the staffing levels at the nation’s airports which have encountered major airline delays over the past week as the furloughs have hit air traffic controllers.

A White House official told ABC News’ Jeff Zeleny that President Obama was set to sign the legislation over the weekend but must now wait until Tuesday so that a spelling error in the measure can be corrected.

In his weekly address Saturday, the president called the legislation merely a “Band-Aid” and said Congress must end the cuts impacting other services stemming from $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester.

“These cuts are scheduled to keep falling across other parts of the government that provide vital services for the American people,” the president said. “We can’t just keep putting Band-Aids on every cut.  It’s not a responsible way to govern.  There is only one way to truly fix the sequester: by replacing it before it causes further damage.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


No FAA Shutdown: Senators Strike Deal to Avert Weekend Session

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A deal has been struck and the stalemate is over: The FAA will not partially shut down Friday night, avoiding another costly and embarrassing episode caused by an impasse in Congress.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., dropped his objection Thursday evening to a part of the highway bill tied to the FAA bill that requires states to spend 10 percent of funding from the Surface Transportation Program for “transportation enhancement activities” such as bike paths, walkways and scenic beautification.

The Senate likely will vote on the temporary FAA/highway bill Thursday night and it is likely to pass.

So what deal was stuck to get Coburn to come around and agree to the six-month highway bill extension?

Sources said that as part of the deal, the permanent highway authorization bill that will need to be passed once this temporary measure expires will carry a state opt-out for “enhancements,” as Coburn wanted.

The deal resolved a standoff between Coburn and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., involving items such as bike paths and white squirrels.

Before the deal, senators were told they might need to be in Washington for a weekend session if the FAA issue was not resolved in time to avoid a partial FAA shutdown after midnight Saturday morning.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


House Will Continue Temporary Funding for the FAA

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House of Representatives has passed a bill that will continue temporary funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and federal highway, transit and highway safety programs. The bill was passed Tuesday, September 13th, by voice vote.

This bill authorizes FAA programs through January 31st, 2012, at the current funding levels. It comes right on time, considering the current extension for FAA programs was set to expire at the end of this week.

The bill also authorizes federal highway, transit and highway safety programs through March 31st, 2012, at current funding levels, while the current extension was set to expire at the end of September 2011.

Earlier in the summer, the  FAA was shut down for two weeks after Congress disagreed over extending its funding. This standoff left 4,000 workers furloughed while the FAA was unable to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Urges Congress to Pass Transportation Bill

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama urged Congress on Wednesday to quickly pass legislation to continue funding transportation and infrastructure, saying it would be “inexcusable” for lawmakers to put more American jobs at risk.

“At a time when a lot of people in Washington are talking about creating jobs, it’s time to stop the political gamesmanship that can actually cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs. This should not be a Democratic issue or a Republican issue,” Obama said in the Rose Garden.

The president called on lawmakers to pass “clean extensions” of the Surface Transportation Bill, also referred to as the “highway bill,” and the Federal Aviation Administration Re-authorization, claiming both measures are necessary to protect the economy and the American workforce.

According to the White House, there are a million jobs riding on the highway bill and over 4,000 workers will be furloughed immediately if it is allowed to expire.

“That’s just not acceptable,” Obama said. “It’s inexcusable to put more jobs at risk in an industry that’s already been one of the hardest hit over the last decade. It’s inexcusable to cut off necessary investments at a time when so many of our highways are choked with congestion, when so many of our bridges are in need of repair, when so many commuters depend on reliable public transit and when travel and shipping delays cost businesses billions of dollars every single year.”

Obama was joined at the event by AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka on one side and Chamber of Commerce COO David Chavern on the other. He described them as “two organizations that don’t always see eye to eye,” and said their support proved that Congress needs to pass the bills.

The president’s speech was an offensive move by the White House to get ahead of lawmakers as Republicans in the House of Representatives and Democrats in the U.S. Senate have disagreements about the two bills. The transportation bill is set to expire at the end of September, but the House and Senate remain far apart on the legislation, which provides funding for highway construction, bridge repair, mass transit systems and revenue in the form of the federal gas tax. The House has proposed a 6-year, $235-billion bill, while the Senate wants a two-year, $109-billion measure.

Because the differences between the two chambers are so great, Congress will likely need to pass a short-term extension to avoid a shutdown at the end of next month. Democrats fear Republicans will try to attach extraneous riders, which is why the president called for a “clean extension.”

The president also called for Congress to pass a long-term extension of funding for the FAA. Earlier this summer, close to 4,000 federal employees were furloughed and tens of thousands of construction workers found themselves out a job when Congress broke for its summer recess before passing the routine extension. A short-term extension was ultimately passed, but it is set to expire Sept. 16.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


House Republican Calls Dems' Message on FAA ‘B.S.'

United States Congress(WASHINGTON) -- One key House Republican is objecting to the Obama administration’s accusation that the GOP was holding the FAA hostage during the agency’s funding impasse, dismissing the partisan charge as “bull----” just before lawmakers reached an agreement Thursday afternoon.

Rep. Steven LaTourette, a graduate of the University of Michigan, noted that lawmakers “spend a lot of time here attempting not to be impolite” … “but it’s time to not be impolite [sic] as we deal with this crisis.”

“It’s a long-standing tradition if you go to watch a football game in the Big House, when the referee makes a call that is questionable, 105,000 people go, ‘bull----,’” LaTourette cursed, coughing his way through the slur. “It is time to declare B.S. on the message that is occurring currently on the aviation bill and strip away what’s going on.”

LaTourette, the vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, claims that earlier this week, House Speaker John Boehner had dispatched him to the Senate to see if he could persuade Sen. Tom Coburn to drop his opposition to a clean-extension, but the Oklahoma senator refused and continued to push his amendment on Essential Air Services (EAS), which was included in the House-passed bill.

Coburn’s amendment would prevent taxpayers from subsidizing airfare beyond $1000 per passenger, and 90 miles from a major airport hub – essentially cutting off subsidies for 13 rural airports. Although Reid said he could agree to the House bill that contains the Coburn language, Sen. Jay Rockefeller objected – lobbying instead for a clean-extension.

Late Thursday afternoon, Senate Democrats agreed to pass the House-passed extension, and are expected to vote on the measure Friday during a pro forma session. Not every senator will need to be present for the vote. Instead, the measure is expected to be passed via unanimous consent.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FAA Shutdown: End In Sight For 13-Day Stalemate

FAA(WASHINGTON) -- After 13 days of political stalemate over funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, lawmakers announced Thursday a deal to end the shutdown that has sent more than 75,000 workers and contractors home without pay.

The Senate will pass the temporary FAA funding bill the House passed two weeks ago on Friday, officials said.

It is the same bill Senate Democrats objected to because it cut off subsidies to 13 rural airports. Once the deal is passed and signed, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will use his authority -- granted in the bill -- to issue a waiver allowing at least some of the subsidies to continue.

"I am pleased to announce that we have been able to broker a bipartisan compromise between the House and the Senate to put 75,000 transportation and construction workers back to work," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "This agreement does not resolve the important differences that still remain. But I believe we should keep Americans working while Congress settles its differences, and this agreement will do exactly that."

The FAA was partially shut down July 23 after House Republicans and Senate Democrats failed to reach an agreement to continue funding the agency. The Washington dispute has, in effect, laid off nearly 75,000 people who work for the agency or on an FAA-funded airport construction project.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Urges Congress to End FAA Shutdown

US Government(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama accused lawmakers Wednesday of playing politics with the extension to fund the FAA and urged Congress to resolve the shutdown before the end of the week, saying this is another example of a “self-inflicted wound” on the American economy.

“This is a lose-lose-lose situation that can be easily solved if Congress gets back into town and does its job,” Obama said during a White House Cabinet meeting.

Congress left on vacation this week without passing legislation to fund the FAA, leaving nearly 4,000 FAA employees furloughed and close to 30,000 construction workers out of a job. “The FAA routinely gets its authorities extended through Congress.  It's happened 20 times since 2007.  This time, Congress has decided to play some politics with it,” Obama said.

The president called on Congress to resolve the issue before the end of the week. “Don't put the livelihoods of thousands of people at risk.  Don't put projects at risk.  And don't let a billion dollars, at a time when we're scrambling for every dollar we can, get left on the table because Congress did not act,” Obama said, noting that the House and the Senate could pass an extension through a procedural agreement and “have the fights that they want to have when they get back.”

The president also chastised the airlines for continuing to collect a federal tax on tickets and said the government is losing critical tax revenue.

“The airlines are still collecting these fees because it's priced into their tickets, but they're not turning them over to the federal government and the federal government stands to lose $200 million a week,” he said. “That would be a billion dollars at a time when we're worrying about how we pay for everything from education to Head Start. And we don't anticipate it's going to be easy to get that money back. Even though the airlines are collecting it, they're keeping it.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Capitol Hill Spat over Unions, Rural Airports Costing $30M Daily

United States Congress(WASHINGTON) -- The Democratic congressional leadership blasted House Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans Wednesday for taking 75,000 Federal Aviation Administration and construction workers "hostage" by refusing to pass a short-term extension to fund the FAA.

"We owe it to these workers to come together to reach a compromise," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said. "We owe it to every American taxpayer to reach a compromise. We need to get this done and we should get it done today."

The FAA has been partially shut down since July 22, when Congress-approved funding for the agency expired. Without funding, the FAA cannot collect airplane ticket taxes, resulting in a loss of about $30 million per day, or $360 million since the shutdown began. That number will jump to more than $1 billion if Congress does not pass an extension before returning from its August "district work" break in September.

The shutdown has also caused 4,000 FAA employees to be furloughed and more than 70,000 airport construction workers to be sent home without pay.

"The FAA is in limbo," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "Airports are the economic engine of small and large communities around the country and that engine is now stuck in neutral. Under the cover of the debt-ceiling crisis that they manufactured, [Republicans] have set in motion another crisis and again are holding the livelihoods of Americans hostage until they get everything they want."

Congress has passed 20 short-term FAA funding bills since the agency's long-term authorization expired in 2007.

But while past extensions have been relatively uncontroversial, this one has caused a firestorm of debate because it brings a labor dispute and subsidies for rural airports into the fray.

The House has already passed a short-term extension bill, but Senate Democrats refuse to pass it because it includes $16.5 million in cuts to rural airport subsidies.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FAA Set to Lose $1 Billion After Senate Fails to Pass Funding

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Aviation Administration will lose more than $1.2 billion in uncollected taxes alone, after the Senate adjourned Tuesday for a month-long "district work" period without passing a bill to re-fund it.

Funding for the FAA expired on July 22, shutting down not only the administration's tax collecting but also construction and maintenance projects across the country. About 75,000 workers have been laid off as a result.

While the House passed both a short-term and a long-term funding bill in the spring, the Senate did not approve either because of objections to riders in the two bills.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid initially expressed optimism Tuesday that the upper chamber may take up the House's short-term funding bill, despite Democrats' opposition to the rider that cuts subsidies to rural airports.

"I do my best to protect the state, but sometimes you have to be reasonable," Reid said. "As we learned with this big deal we've just done, sometimes you have to step back and find out what's best for the country and not be bound by some of your own personal feelings."

But by 6:30 p.m. ET Reid's optimism had dissipated and he called for the Senate to adjourn without asking consent for an FAA funding bill because, he said, the Democrats "tried for days now" to convince Republicans to drop the riders and pass a clean extension.

"Four thousand air travel employees are out of work and safety inspectors are working without pay because Republicans are playing reckless games with airline safety," Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson said.

"There is bipartisan agreement that we should keep air travel employees and safety inspectors on the payroll while we work out our policy differences, but we are being blocked by a handful of Republicans," Jentleson said. "We should not let ideology interfere with making sure that Americans' air travel runs as smoothly and safely as possible."

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who supported a clean reauthorization despite also supporting the House's bill, pointed out on the Senate floor Monday that the math "just doesn't add up."

While Congress fights over $16.5 million in airport subsidies, the federal government is losing twice that amount per day in uncollected taxes. That loss will jump to more than $1 billion before Congress returns after Labor Day, which would be enough to fund the entire airport subsidy program for five years.

"I cannot think of anything more irresponsible," Hutchison said.

The shutdown carries a hefty price tag for the federal government as well.

Without Congressional reauthorization, the FAA cannot collect airline ticket taxes, resulting in a loss of about $200 million per week.

In addition to the lost tax revenues, the shutdown has sent 4,000 FAA employees and 70,000 construction workers around the country home without pay. It has also halted 248 construction projects and prevented $2.5 billion in construction grants from being paid out.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Senate Set to Revamp Nation's Air Travel

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) - After weeks of debate, the Senate appears to be set to pass a $35 billion Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill.

The key issue that had prevented passage of the bipartisan measure was a dispute over adding more long-distance flights to Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC. West Coast senators wanted to see more long-distance slots, but lawmakers from states neighboring the nation’s capital opposed that idea on the grounds that it would hurt their home-state airports like Dulles International in Virginia and Baltimore-Washington International in Maryland.

Senators, however, managed to reach a compromise that would add up to 16 daily round-trip flights between Reagan and western states.

The bill would help streamline the implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System – known as NextGen – a nationwide project designed to change the country’s system from ground-based to a satellite-based one that uses GPS technology. The program, the 2004 brainchild of former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, would improve aviation safety and capacity, save airlines money and cut down on delays and pollution, according to proponents.

In addition, Democrats have touted the FAA measure as the “first jobs bill” of the new Congress, saying it would save or create an estimated 280,000 jobs.

Once it emerges from the upper chamber of Congress, the bill will still have to be passed by the House.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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