Seeking to prevent another partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), U.S. Representative Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) today applauded House-passage of the 22nd extension of the FAA Authorization and programs and called on the Senate to quickly consider the legislation before the September 16th deadline.
"In a unanimous vote, the House approved the 22nd extension of the FAA's authorization and programs. It is crystal clear that we do not want a repeat of the partial shutdown this summer that furloughed nearly 4,000 FAA employees, prevented tens of thousands of construction workers from moving forward on airport projects, and issued stop-work orders to contractors working on NEXTGEN. It was a preventable disaster that must never be repeated," said LoBiondo. "The Senate should quickly follow the House's lead and then both Chambers must end this practice by passing a full four-year FAA Authorization."
Today's extension extends the FAA Authorization through January 31, 2012. Given that the House and Senate have each approved a long-term FAA authorization earlier this year, LoBiondo is pushing for a four-year bill to be approved by Congress and sent to President Obama before this current extension expires.
"In order to ensure the implementation and execution of the NEXTGEN project without costly delays, Congress must pass a four-year FAA Authorization that provides reliable funding for this critical aviation safety modernization effort," continued LoBiondo, whose district is home to the William J Hughes FAA Technical Center which is the lead facility on the NEXTGEN project. "NEXTGEN is vitally important to the nation and South Jersey. I will continue to work with my colleagues to complete a deal on a long-term FAA Authorization."
In August, LoBiondo introduced the "Furloughed FAA Employees Compensation Act" that would grant the U.S. Secretary of Transportation the authority to pay the salaries and related benefits of those federal employees who were furloughed during the partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The two-week shutdown began at midnight on July 22, 2011 and ended on August 5, 2011. It affected approximately 4,000 federal FAA employees nationwide including nearly 650 at the William J. Hughes FAA Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township, NJ. The funding for back pay would come from the Aviation Trust Fund.
Unfortunately, LoBiondo's back pay legislation was not included in the FAA extension approved by the House today.
"While I understand the Senate's insistence for a straight-forward FAA extension, these workers were furloughed due to no fault of their own. They and their families experienced financial hardship due to Congress' inability to act. I continue to work with Speaker Boehner and House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Mica to make this situation right and ensure back pay legislation is considered by the House," concluded LoBiondo, the only New Jersey representative on the House Aviation Subcommittee.
Also included with the FAA extension is H.R. 2887, a six-month extension of federal highway, transit and highway safety programs at the current Fiscal Year 2011 authorization levels. This is the 8th extension since the long-term law expired in 2009, proving authority for these federal programs through March 31, 2012.