SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Begich Calls for Congress to Reconvene & Reauthorize FAA


August 03, 2011

(SitNews) - Since midnight on July 23, 2011, after the U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass a clean short-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), 79 Alaskans have been told not to report to work and some funding for Alaska airport projects has been put on hold due to a partial shutdown of the FAA. U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today wrote a letter to Senate and House leadership calling for Congress to return from the August recess to pass a clean FAA extension and end the shutdown.

“As the respective leaders of the House and the Senate, I implore you to call Congress back into session to pass a clean extension of the FAA and end the shutdown,” Sen. Begich writes. “As the debt limit crisis just demonstrated, Americans are tired of the gridlock and partisanship in Washington.  It is Congress’s job to put Americans back to work, not create further unemployment.”

Sen. Begich has advocated for a comprehensive authorization of the FAA for months. The last comprehensive authorization of the FAA expired in 2007 and congress has passed 20 short-term extensions of the FAA since then.

“I’ve spoken with furloughed Alaskans who have been told not to show up to work and I share their outrage and disgust,” said Sen. Begich. “Aviation is an integral part of life in Alaska and any limitations to the FAA’s ability to fulfill its mission harms our state. This shutdown has been caused by the same political games that almost pushed our economy over the cliff yesterday and they have to stop now.”

The partial shutdown has stopped work on an $843,000 runway lighting project in Bethel and a $563,000 project to modernize the Anchorage Air Traffic Control tower.  The Shutdown threatens to prevent the disbursement of an additional $7 million in airport construction funds to Alaska. A continued shutdown risks additional stop-work orders and delays for aviation projects throughout the state.

“Alaska’s short construction season means that this shutdown risks the completion of the Bethel and Anchorage projects,” said Sen. Begich. “Anyone arguing this shutdown will save us money is wrong. By halting these projects and delaying work at our airports, we’re only increasing the cost we will pay in the long run and hurting FAA employees and their families.”

In addition to the furloughed FAA employees, an estimated 70,000 private sector construction jobs have been impacted by the stop-work orders issued by the FAA.  “With unemployment at record levels in the construction industry, it is incomprehensible that House leaders would take actions to put more of the private sector out of work.”

As paychecks to FAA employees stopped, Sen. Begich attempted to support families hurt by the shutdown by cosponsoring S.1433, The Federal Aviation Employees Protection Act of 2011. This legislation, introduced by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, would provide back pay for the nearly 4,000 furloughed FAA employees, including the 79 Alaskans.



Source of News: 

Office of U.S. Senator Mark Begich


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Stories In The News
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