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Republicans Hold FAA Authorization Vote Hostage To Extort Anti-Union Deal

Since we've already set the precedent of negotiating with hostage-takers, I think we all know how this one will probably end: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Republicans have backed Democrats into a corner: Surrender Tuesday or the

Since we've already set the precedent of negotiating with hostage-takers, I think we all know how this one will probably end:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Republicans have backed Democrats into a corner: Surrender Tuesday or the FAA stays shut for the rest of the summer.

House members left town Monday evening after passing their default-dodging debt limit deal. And they did it with an impasse between the two sides of the Capitol over a temporary Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill unresolved.

The Senate is still in town, set to vote on the debt deal Tuesday. That means the only options left on the FAA are either for the standoff to last until Congress returns in September, or for the Senate to cave. And the Senate says it isn’t budging.

Earlier Monday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood traveled to New York’s LaGuardia airport to unleash a blistering critique of the congressional stalemate, and to implore Congress not to go on vacation before the funding dispute was resolved. LaHood says 4,000 FAA workers have been furloughed and 70,000 construction workers idled. The FAA also said some airport inspectors are being required to go to work — but can’t be paid until the funding issue is settled.

To recap, the GOP-controlled House two weeks ago passed a temporary authorization extension for the FAA. But the bill included a tweak taking a bite out of federal subsidies for just a small handful of regional airports. Senate Democrats refused to swallow the bill, instead insisting on a “clean” extension. The FAA, and nearly 4,000 furloughed workers, have been sitting in the crossfire ever since.

In the background of all this is a partisan dispute over federal union rules. A longer-term FAA authorization bill is currently stalled in House-Senate talks because GOP lawmakers want to repeal an Obama Administration rule making it easier for workers at airlines and rail companies to organize. Senate Democrats, led by Rockefeller, have accused Republicans of using the short-term FAA bill as leverage over the union issue.

On Monday, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-Va.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, tried to clear a pair of FAA bills through the Senate. One was the “clean” extension Democrats have been bucking for, the other was a new package of about $71 million dollars in regional airport subsidy cuts, far larger than the cuts Republicans are pushing.

[...] A Rockefeller spokesman said Monday that it was unclear whether jammed Senate Democrats would accede to the House FAA bill and reopen the agency.

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