Up to 4,000 federal employees will be furloughed and $2.5 billion in airport improvement work will stall midnight Friday after federal legislators failed to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration.
Following the U.S. Congress’s inability to extend the FAA’s authorization until Sept. 17, the administration will be partially shutdown and lose out of about $200 million in weekly airline taxes. The partial shutdown won’t affect air service.
“I’m very disappointed that Congress adjourned today without passing a clean extension of the FAA bill,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “This is no way to run the best aviation system in the world.”
The lynchpin to the U.S. House’s failure to reauthorize the FAA was a legislative provision calling for the cutting of rural air service subsidies, which would save $12.5 million annually, supporters say.
Democrats called the proposal — to limit eligibility to the Essential Air Service program to airports greater than 90 miles from a medium-sized or major hub airport — a political stunt to gain leverage in the future conference for Senate and House legislation.
The furloughed FAA employee comprise slightly more than 8 percent of the agency’s workforce of 48,000, according to the federal Office of Personnel Management.