Infrastructure is defined as “the most basic level of organizational structure in a complex body or system the serves as a foundation for the rest.” So there is a connection between the lack of infrastructure investment for roads, rails, bridges, seaports and airports and a lackluster economy given that infrastructure provides “a foundation for the rest.”
Now, I’m not suggesting that the August unemployment numbers released today – you know, the ones that show there was NO job creation in August – is based solely on the lack of infrastructure funding. But given the impact of the two week FAA shutdown, I’m thinking we can draw a pretty straight line between the fact that 70,000+ construction workers who lost their jobs; 4,000 FAA employees were furloughed, and the tens of thousands of jobs that weren’t created because airports couldn’t get their Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding because there were no FAA employees to process and award the money; and the unemployment numbers.
Next week Congress returns to face the very same issue they did before leaving town a month ago: extending the operating authority for the FAA. The current extension expires on September 16th leaving the House and Senate approximately 9 days to take action. So what can we expect? There are three scenarios:
Best Case: Congress passes a two year extension of FAA’s operating authority, as ACI-NA has urged, because it is clear that there are policy issues in the underlying legislation that can’t be worked out in 9 days.
Most Likely: Congress passes yet another short term extension for two weeks, a month or some other random timeline.
Worst Case: Congress shuts down the FAA again.
Here’s hoping members of congress retain the economic refresher course airports across the country provided during the August break to ensure that the “foundation for the rest” is strengthened by passage of a two year extension of FAA’s operating authority in order to provide the House and Senate with the time needed to work out their policy differences without stifling the ability of airports and their communities to grow and prosper.