Senate majority leader Henry Reid says that a bipartisan deal has been reached to end the two-week partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Association (FAA). The impasse over FAA reauthorization had put at least 4,000 agency employees out of work, left tens of thousands workers idle at stalled construction projects at hundreds of airports around the country and cost the government more than $300 million in lost taxes on airline tickets.
The Republicans’ stated reason for the dispute was about a program providing subsidies to rural airports, the Essential Air Service. In July, the House had passed a bill temporarily allowing the FAA to conduct business while cutting $16 million from the subsidies. But Senate Democrats, says Politico, saw the cuts as part of a separate Republican goal, to make Democrats accept anti-union language included in a long-term FAA reauthorization bill.
In other words, the real reason for the shutdown was,Care2′s Jessica P wrote, about union-busting.
With it looking likely that the shutdown would drag on past the end of August, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told Congressional leaders on Thursday that he will use his authority to waive at least some of the subsidy cuts. The Senate will now pass the bill by unanimous consent. But the reauthorization only runs through September 16 at which time the fight over unionization rules will continue.
In announcing the deal, Reid said that
“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.”
To keep airports working safely, airport inspectors, already working without pay, had been asked to charge government travel expenses to their own credit cards.
In a statement, LaHood said that “This is a tremendous victory for American workers everywhere” and “We have the best aviation system in the world and we intend to keep it that way.” Indeed we should, though apparently for some, partisan politics are a higher priority than keeping that aviation system going.
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