FAA Faces Potential Shutdown if Congress Doesn’t Pass Bill by Midnight Friday

By Eliza

Jul 21, 2011 4:22pm

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ABC News’ Arlette Saenz (@arlettesaenz) reports:

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood urged Congress to pass the FAA reauthorization bill by midnight tomorrow in order to avoid a partial shutdown of the aviation agency. 

“We have now reached a breaking point,” LaHood said in a press conference today.  “This is no way to run the best aviation system in the world.  We need Congress to go to work, to put our employees back to work and to get the FAA bill extended or passed for the benefit of the American people.”

LaHood warned Congress that the government will could lose up to $200 million a week in airline taxes along with halting projects at airports nationwide if they do not pass the reauthorization of the FAA by midnight tomorrow.  If an extension or bill is not passed, approximately 4,000 FAA employees will be furloughed, including employees who collect taxes from airlines and construction workers assigned to airport projects.

“Without swift action from Congress, $2.5 billion for airport projects around the country will put thousands of people in good paying jobs, hard working people, out of work because this money will be suspended.”

Legislators are at an impasse over a labor provision in the bill, which would make it more difficult for transportation workers to unionize.

Despite a potential shutdown looming, LaHood assured the public that safety will not be compromised if the FAA shuts down.

“Air traffic control will continue and the safety of the flying public will not be compromised.  We cannot afford to wait.”

Air traffic controllers are deemed essential safety personnel, exempting them from the impact of a shutdown.

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