The Federal Aviation Administration has stopped work on air travel infrastructure projects across the United States after Congress failed to pass legislation re-authorizing federal ticket taxes. The taxes fund the building airport facilities such as control towers and runways.
The FAA issued a statement Monday saying, in part, that the halt in work would end up costing the government more money in the long run:
“Construction workers, engineers and planners were told not to come to worksites across the country after the FAA was forced to issue stop work orders on projects ranging from the construction of new air traffic control towers to the rehabilitation and modernization of air traffic facilities. Nearly 4,000 FAA personnel, many needed to oversee various aspects of these projects, were furloughed on Saturday. Stopping work on these projects could significantly increase the ultimate costs of construction for taxpayers.”
The Senate and House have both approved re-authorizations for the FAA that would put the projects back in operation. The bills, however, differ and the two bodies have not been able to compromise on issues such as airline subsidies for rural markets and rules surrounding the unionization of airline workers.
The AP reports that the FAA shutdown may well go on for some time:
“But all indications Monday pointed to a prolonged shutdown. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said there are no negotiations between the House and Senate to resolve the dispute, and House Republican leaders are determined to hold their position.”
“‘I have no idea when we’ll open the FAA again,’ he said.”
Unaffected by the FAA shutdown are air traffic controllers and safety inspectors. They will remain on the job.