FAA faces another possible shutdown

September 13, 2011 8:38:00 PM PDT
The Federal Aviation Administration could face another shutdown Friday, affecting dozens of Bay Area jobs. An extension passed by Congress this summer that kept the FAA running is about to expire again and it could impact a major project underway at the Oakland airport.

"I don't know about you, but I'm tired of politics when we should be creating jobs," Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said.

Quan saw work on Oakland's new air traffic control tower come to a halt when congress did not extend the FAA's budget over the summer.

FAA administrator Randy Babbitt was at the Oakland airport Tuesday, overseeing the project.

"When we did not get the money, we took two weeks off, directly, we put 4,000 FAA employees out of work, they were furloughed," Babbitt said.

Now another shutdown is possible if congress does not extend funding for the projects by Friday.

Also in Oakland Tuesday was Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

"Now we need to get the message to the Senate, they need to pass the bill so America can continue to work on important projects like this, so nobody is laid off, so everybody can have a job," LaHood said.

The FAA has been without long-term funding since 2007. Instead, every four months or so, Congress grants that agency a temporary extension. That's because Congress has been divided over funding certain projects. A labor issue and a dispute over air services have also kept the FAA without long-term authorization.

"They are not dramatic differences, these can be negotiated out and if they focus on a bi-partisan nature, they'll get there," Babbitt said.

Rich Zemlok is a construction worker. He hopes he can keep his job.

"I have a daughter in college, my medical bills are $1,500 a month, that's my medical payment, we have house payments, gas is $4 a gallon, I mean it all starts stacking up," Zemlok said.

Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed the extension bill; it now goes before the Senate. LaHood and Babbitt are cautiously optimistic.


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