U.S. Representative Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02), the only New Jersey Representative on the House Aviation Subcommittee, today lashed out at the U.S. Senate for failing to pass a short-term extension of the FAA Authorization Act while Congress continues to debate a full four-year reauthorization. Without an extension approved by Congress and signed by the President, some programs and operations at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would be halted at close of business Friday, July 22nd, including the immediate furlough of some employees at the William J. Hughes FAA Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township. Additionally, some work on the NEXTGEN project would be impacted and delayed.
"The FAA Tech Center and its employees are responsible for critical security research affecting our nation's aviation system and passenger safety. Likewise, their efforts to develop and implement the NEXTGEN project are essential to the nation. To have a significant number of the thousands of employees at the Tech Center be told not to report to duty would grind their work to a halt," blasted LoBiondo. "Inexcusably, the Senate is jeopardizing aviation safety and security by actively sitting on their hands and refusing to extend the FAA authorization."
On Wednesday the House passed an extension (H.R. 2553) of the FAA's programs and operations which maintains current funding levels until September 16, 2011. At the center of the Senate's refusal to pass an extension are specific Senators' objections to provisions reforming the Essential Air Service (EAS), which provides taxpayer-funded subsides for rural airports across the country though none in New Jersey.
"Senator Majority Leader Reid is willing to allow thousands of FAA employees to be furloughed, including hundreds in South Jersey, to protect a taxpayer-funded subsidy of $3,700 per passenger to an airport in Nevada. It is simply outrageous!" an angry LoBiondo continued. "This is why the American people distrust Washington and question its ability to set the nation's fiscal priorities."
This is the 21st extension required by Congress to prevent a disruption in the FAA.