Senate Approves FAA Bill, Ending Agency Shutdown

Aug 5, 2011

The Senate this morning approved a bill that ends the partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration, reports the AP.

As NPR's Brian Naylor reported this morning, the bill is yet another short-term extension of funding that puts off dealing with the issues that prevented an agreement on a longer term deal.

Brian adds:

Under the deal, the Senate agreed to pass a temporary extension of the FAA's operating authority that has already been approved by the House. That House bill contains a provision many Senate Democrats objected to — one that would roll back a program that subsidizes flights to several small regional airports.

But that provision also had some wiggle room in it — language giving the Transportation secretary authority to waive the cutbacks if they were found to result in "undue difficulty" in accessing the nearest medium or large hub airport. And Transportation department officials say LaHood will use that authority, essentially negating the cutbacks.

The waiver gives Republicans and Democrats a way out of a political mess that dimmed whatever glow Congress felt after raising the debt ceiling. The stalemate left some 74,000 government employees and contractors without paychecks, and cost the government an estimated $30 million a day in lost ticket taxes.

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