FAA Shutdown Continues through August Recess

 

Both Houses Adjourn Without Acting on FAA Bill

 

FROM:           Jane Calderwood, Vice President, Government and Political Affairs

DATE:            August 1, 2011

 

Senator Rockefeller (D-W.V.), Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, came to the Senate floor shortly before 6:30 pm (Monday, Aug. 1) to announce that his efforts to get a clean FAA extension were going to be objected to so FAA employees would go another month without a paycheck.

Senator Rockefeller then gave his explanation of what had occurred to put the FAA in its current position.  He said it was “a tragedy that never had to happen” and that the House and Senate had resolved 250 differences between the two authorization bills and that there were only about 12 issues remaining to be worked out.

Six weeks ago the House passed a clean FAA extension, the 20th, in order to provide more time to work out the differences between the House and Senate. But Senator Rockefeller was told that unless and until the Senate accepted the House language on the National Mediation Board there would be no more discussions.  Senator Rockefeller said that the House position had been on this point was restated this afternoon.

The Chairman explained that the Essential Air Service (EAS) language included in the 21st extension was unprecedented and if the House had really wanted to address the EAS issue they would have stayed at the negotiating table.

The Chairman then stated “We have a choice tonight we can pass a clean extension and put the people back to work.  We have inflicted far too much damage on the national aviation system.  I urge my colleagues to allow the consent agreement to go forward.  It won’t.”

The Chairman committed to the Senate that he would do everything within his power to make the airlines pay back the more than $1.2 billion that they will have received by the time the Senate gets back in September – Rockefeller said this was how much money the trust fund would have received had the FAA been authorized.

Senator Rockefeller then asked for unanimous consent  to pass a clean extension of the FAA reauthorization, and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) objected.

Senator Hatch then requested that the House-passed extension be brought up and an amendment he had on the National Mediation Board be agreed to by unanimous consent.  Senator Rockefeller objected.

So the FAA shutdown will continue until Congress determines how to find agreement on some key policy differences when they return to Washington in September.