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FAA Shutdown Possible in House-Senate Dispute

Dulles Airport Terminal

If the House of Representatives and the Senate cannot agree by Friday over a labor provision as part of a funding bill for the Federal Aviation Administration, the FAA could shut down, the AP reports.

The FAA has operated under short-term extensions since Sept. 30, 2007, because lawmakers cannot agree on a longterm funding bill. The FAA’s operating authority expires Friday.

The provision in dispute is part of a longterm funding bill passed by the House in April. The Republican-sponsored provision overturns a National Mediation Board ruling last year that allows airline and railroad workers to form a union by a simple majority of voters. Under that ruling, workers who didn’t vote were counted as “no” votes.

“Congress needs to act quickly to extend FAA’s operations,” said Marion C. Blakey, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association. “If the House and Senate cannot work out their differences on a full re-authorization bill in the time remaining, another short-term extension should be passed.”

The FAA employs about 32,000 workers, 15,500 of them are air traffic controllers. Air traffic controllers are essential employees and would continue to work even if the FAA’s authority expires. Blakey said nearly 4,000 nonessential employees could face furloughs.

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