Sen. Reid Capitulates on FAA Shutdown

FAA Shutdown to End with Deal, Harry Reid Says


Scott Wong and Joseph Williams

August 4, 2011

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that House and Senate leaders have brokered a “bipartisan compromise” over Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, ending — if only temporarily — a two-week standoff that had sidelined 74,000 federal employees and airport construction workers and cost the government tens of millions of dollars in uncollected airline ticket surcharges.

“This agreement does not resolve the important differences that still remain,” Reid said in a statement announcing the deal. “But I believe we should keep Americans working while Congress settles its differences, and this agreement will do exactly that.”

Under the arrangement, the Democratic-controlled Senate will pass by unanimous consent a bill that the Republican House passed months ago that temporarily allows the FAA to conduct its business and slashes $16 million from the budget for subsidies paid to rural airports. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will then use his authority to waive the subsidy reduction.

The subsidy cuts had been approved by the House in July but had become a sticking point for Senate Democrats, who saw them as a Republican tactic in service of a larger goal: forcing Democrats to accept anti-union language that had been included in a long-term FAA reauthorization bill the House had approved weeks ago.The language strips away a National Mediation Board ruling that makes it easier to organize airline industry employees

“This is a tremendous victory for American workers everywhere,” LaHood said in a statement. From construction workers to our FAA employees, they will have the security of knowing they are going to go back to work and get a paycheck - and that’s what we’ve been fighting for. We have the best aviation system in the world and we intend to keep it that way.”