U.S. aviation authority partially shuts down after Congress fails to provide funding

13:45, July 24, 2011      

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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Saturday partially shut down, furloughing without pay about 4,000 workers as Congress failed to reauthorize the agency's funding.

The Senate on Friday failed to approve a controversial extension of taxes that help fund the FAA. The measure was passed by the House.

In a statement, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he's " very disappointed" that Congress didn't pass the extension of FAA funding.

"Because of their inaction, states and airports won't be able to work on their construction projects, and too many people will have to go without a paycheck. This is no way to run the best aviation system in the world."

LaHood stressed essential personnel related to airport and air safety would not be cut, saying "safety will not be compromised."

The House on Wednesday approved an extension of FAA taxes until Sept. 16, but that extension included language that would prohibit federal subsidies from going to three small airports in Montana, Nevada and New Mexico because tickets there are subsidized at more than 1,000 dollars per ticket. The House extension also included language eliminating subsidies to 10 small airports because they are within 90 miles of a medium or large airport.

The Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate have been blaming each other for failing to pass an FAA reauthorization.

"It is unbelievable that after the House passed the 21st FAA extension, the Senate departed Washington and left the FAA and many of its employees behind," House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica said.

But Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller accused House Republicans of playing politics with the bill.

Source: Xinhua
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