A bill passed this morning ended the partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration, which proved hard on those with jobs in the aviation and construction industries and, if estimates were correct, could have cost the U.S. government more than $1 billion in lost revenue.
The shutdown halted more than 250 aviation development projects, and led to the furloughs of almost 4,000 FAA employees, and was caused in part by a standoff between House Republicans and Democrats over a provision in the FAA reauthorization bill that would strip funding for rural airports and make it easier for airport employees to unionize. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, who heads the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, had recently said that he had “no idea” when the FAA shutdown will come to an end, and was staunch in his refusal to allow the provision to pass.
The government was likely losing as much as $30 million a day on uncollected airline ticket taxes because of the shutdown; the total lost is at least $200 million. The bill that was passed today will only fund the FAA until Sept. 16 — and negotiations on the longer-term bill are still heated. According to The Hill, Mica will likely continue playing hardball come September.
“It’s vital that the House and Senate leaderships and respective committees, in the next several weeks, work to ensure the end of a four-and-a-half-year delay in passing a long-term FAA bill so there will be no need for a 22nd extension,” he said. “If the Senate refuses to negotiate on the few remaining issues, they can be assured that every tool at our disposal will be utilized to ensure a long-term bill is signed into law.”
Though the funding extension passed today will put 74,000 back to work, it also includes cuts to rural flight service to airports in Nevada, West Virginia and Montana.