WASHINGTON--Shame on Congress, going home for a five week vacation without reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration, forcing the furlough of some 4,000 FAA workers--including 145 in the Chicago area--and sidelining about 70,000 contractors employed on airport related construction projects.
What were the members of Congress thinking, to skip town, collect their paychecks and benefits while real people suffered because of a partisan disagreement over FAA policy?
Today--Thursday--congressional leaders announced a deal to people can get back to work. Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood helped broker the deal.
Earlier in the day I was at a session with other reporters and LaHood--a former House member from Peoria-- where he was urging Congress to come back and get to work. "This is not the way to run the best aviation system in the world," he said. LaHood said he has been working "24/7" to get a deal.
President Obama said in statement: I'm pleased that leaders in Congress are working together to break the impasse involving the FAA so that tens of thousands of construction workers and others can go back to work. We can't afford to let politics in Washington hamper our recovery, so this is an important step forward."
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a statement: "Extending FAA authorization will put an estimated 74,000 Americans back to work and help keep airports and air operations in Illinois and around the country safe. I support this extension.
"Congress' failure to reach a deal to extend FAA authorization before going home this week is no way to run a government. We can have our political battles, but we should not have them at the expense of working Americans."
"The most recent FAA authorization extension expired on July 23rd. Since then, the FAA has lost an estimated $200 million each week in fees paid by airlines into a trust fund that supports important airport infrastructure projects directly benefiting the flying public. Without authorization, the FAA cannot collect the funds from airlines, though there are reports that several airlines are still charging the fees and keeping the extra funds for themselves."