Senate Passes FAA Funding Bill to End FAA Shutdown

By Eliza

Aug 5, 2011 11:57am

ABC News' Sunlen Miller (@sunlenmiller) reports:

If you blinked you could have easily missed it.

The Senate was in session for less than one minute this morning and passed, by unanimous consent, the House’s FAA funding bill, ending a stalemate that had sent more than 75,000 workers and contractors home without pay from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Currently in pro forma session, the procedural action today didn’t require Senators to return back to Washington, DC. There was a  gavel in, then Democratic Senator Webb of Virginia asked for unanimous consent. Democratic Senator Ben Cardin approved the extension. Then a gavel out.

The next step in terms of the FAA funding bill will come from the administration.   Once the deal is signed by President Obama, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood can use his authority – granted in the bill – to issue a waiver allowing at least some of the subsidies at the 13 small rural airports, the major sticking point, to continue.

The bill only provides short-term funding until September 16, so once Congress is back from summer recess they will be basically right back where they started. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s statement following passage today wasted no time setting up the battle ahead, once the extension expires.

“Republicans like Representative John Mica are already threatening to force these 74,000 Americans out of their jobs again when this extension expires on September 16,” Reid said, “With millions of Americans struggling, we cannot afford for Republicans to hold common-sense jobs bills hostage to the Tea Party's ideological agenda. I hope Republicans will come to their senses and put the interests of the middle class ahead of the Tea Party and favors for airline CEOs.”

The Senate has now ended legislative business for the session and all Senators will head back to their homes for their district work periods: aka summer recess.  The Senate will be in session next on Tuesday September 6.

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