SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Short-term extension returns FAA employees to work;
Airport construction projects can continue


August 05, 2011

(SitNews) - The partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) appeared to conclude on Thursday as Congress reached an agreement on a temporary extension of the agency’s operating authority through September 16, 2011.   The FAA has been shutdown since midnight on July 23, 2011 when the U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass a clean short-term extension of FAA programs.

“I am pleased that an agreement was reached which will put 4,000 furloughed employees back to work,” U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) said.  “It will also get millions of dollars worth of airport construction projects, employing 70,000 construction workers, back on track.”

During the shutdown, the FAA furloughed 79 Alaskans and issued stop work orders for airport improvement projects in Anchorage and Bethel.  

“I am hopeful we can get these projects back on line and completed before the end of the 2011 construction season.”  Begich said.

Senator Begich sent a letter Wednesday to House and Senate leadership imploring them to reconvene Congress to find a solution to end the FAA shutdown.

“The actions of the House leadership are responsible for this furlough and they have had real impacts on real people with families to support and mortgages to pay,” Begich said.  “While I am glad we have reached an agreement on the short term extension, it is imperative that Congress pass legislation to restore the pay and benefits of impacted FAA employees as well.”  

Begich is an original co-sponsor of S. 1433, introduced last week by Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, which would provide back pay for 4,000 furloughed FAA employees.  

“These hardworking employees were kept out of work through no fault of their own,” Begich said.  “Their pay should not be docked because of the shortcomings of Congress.”

Begich also renewed his call which he made in a speech on the Senate floor last week for the House leadership to appoint conferees to negotiate the few remaining differences between the House and Senate FAA Reauthorization bills.  

“We’ve been waiting for the House to appoint conferees, for the last three months,” Begich said. “All of the hard work has been done.  It’s time to get this over the goal line and finish the comprehensive reauthorization.”

U. S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) also commented after a short-term agreement between the Senate and House of Representatives was reached to extend FAA authorization:

Murkowski said in a prepared statement, “I am pleased that Congress was able to come to an agreement on a FAA extension.  This compromise puts thousands of Americans back to work, including 79 Alaskans, and puts vital airport improvement projects back on track.   Congress needs to work toward a long-term FAA authorization bill, which is important for the safety of our skies and health of our transportation system. I will continue to work with my colleagues to finish this bill and assure important air benefits for all Alaskans.”

In the past few months Sen. Murkowski has been actively engaged in the FAA extension discussions; most recently on July 22nd she joined fellow Senate General Aviation Caucus member Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) in sending a letter to their Senate colleagues urging them to support an FAA extension.

The last comprehensive authorization of the FAA expired in 2007.  Congress has passed 20 short term-extensions of the FAA’s funding authority while trying to reach agreement on a multi-year reauthorization.  The FAA bill sets aviation policies and authorizes funding for things like air traffic controllers, building runways, and the “NextGen” modernization of the nation’s air traffic control system from radar to a more accurate satellite tracking system.



Source of News: 

Office of U.S. Senator Mark Begich

Office of U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski


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Stories In The News
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