With all eyes in Washington focused on the debt ceiling debate, little has been made of another costly impasse. Republicans have refused to re-authorize the Federal Aviation Administration without including an anti-union measure in the deal, leaving the FAA in the midst of a costly 10-day shutdown that has forced it to furlough more than 4,000 workers nationwide.
Now, with Congressional leaders seemingly close to ending their fight over the debt ceiling, House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) announced today that the House will begin its August recess after it votes on the debt deal later today. That means the FAA shutdown, which began July 22, will likely last at least another month.
Democrats on the House Transportation Committee are outraged, as Reps. Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Jerry Costello (D-IL) called the recess “irresponsible” and said they planned to write a letter to Cantor calling on him to keep the House in session until the FAA was re-authorized.
Meanwhile, the FAA’s airport inspectors keep doing their jobs, even without pay:
The administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration says airport safety inspectors nationwide are working without pay and shouldering travel expenses themselves, as the agency’s budget crisis enters a second week. […]
An inspector may travel to five airports in a two-week period, racking up thousands of dollars in hotel and airline tickets. Babbitt says they’re being asked to put those expenses on personal credit cards.
The government is losing more than $200 million a week in revenue generated through ticket taxes during the shutdown, and $2.5 billion in airport infrastructure improvement projects are on hold. The airlines, meanwhile, have used those tax breaks to line their own pockets rather than pass the savings on to customers.The Senate is reportedly staying in session to work on a re-authorization plan.