With Congress attempting to pass legislation to raise the debt ceiling, funding for the Federal Aviation Administration continues to remain in peril. On Monday, August 1, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt joined with local contractors and construction workers at LaGuardia Airport, demanding Congress pass an FAA bill before flying off on vacation.
Since Congress allowed the FAA’s last extension to expire on July 22, dozens of construction projects across the country have been issued “stop work orders.” Workers nationwide have been forced to stop work on critical airport modernization projects, and nearly 4,000 FAA employees, many needed to oversee these projects, have been furloughed. This affects many of the NextGen projects that are critical to the AEA’s membership.
“Members of Congress should not get on a plane to fly home for vacation without passing an FAA bill and putting thousands of people back to work,” LaHood said. “Congress needs to do its job for the good of these workers, for the good of our economy and for the good of America’s aviation system.”
“Every day this goes on, we fall further behind,” Babbitt said. “We need our 4,000 FAA employees and tens of thousands of construction workers back on the job so we can get critical projects moving again while it's still construction season. Congress must act quickly before leaving for the August recess.”
Without a reauthorization, the FAA is unable to get roughly $2.5 billion out the door for airport projects in all 50 states that could put thousands of people to work in good paying jobs. In addition to the nearly 4,000 FAA employees in 35 states, and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico who have been furloughed and forced to go without pay, Associated General Contractors (AGC) estimates that 70,000 construction workers and workers in related fields have been affected.
The AEA encourages its members to contact members of Congress and urge them to pass an FAA bill immediately.