Senate Ends FAA Shutdown, Furloughs
Friday, August 05, 2011
In a matter of just a few seconds at 10 a.m. EDT this morning, the Senate officially brought to a close a two-week long saga that saw the FAA partially shut down, 1,200 of our bargaining unit members furloughed and hundreds of millions of dollars squandered for important airport and airspace system projects.
By unanimous consent, the Senate voted to approve the House FAA funding extension that was at the center of another bitter stalemate in Congress. While the contentious issues that are part of that congressional feud have not yet been resolved, the employees and construction workers caught in the middle of the battle are at least, for several more weeks, not going to be used as pawns and suffer the hardships of lost income.
“We are absolutely relieved that our brothers and sisters who have suffered so greatly these past two weeks will now get to return to their important jobs and earn a paycheck that won’t be held up in another Washington political game,” NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said. “This was a tremendously difficult time for them and their families, and for all of the tens of thousands of construction workers who didn’t get paid while their airport projects were shut down by the lack of funding. While this chapter is now closed, we will continue to fight for these workers moving forward in hopes that this never happens again.”
President Obama issued this statement Thursday after a deal was worked out that led to Friday’s vote:
“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.”
Added Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, after a week in which he fought hard for the furloughed employees with continuous national television appearances with FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt and press conferences from the pressroom of the White House:
"This is a tremendous victory for American workers everywhere. 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."