DOT Secretary Ray
Lahood Urges Congress To Pass Clean FAA Authorization Bill
By Steve Hall
July 21, 2011 - Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and
Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy
Babbitt called on Congress to pass a clean extension of
the FAA's authorization in order to avoid airport
project construction delays and employee furloughs. The
current FAA reauthorization expires at midnight this
Friday, July 22, 2011.
LaHood and Babbitt said they oppose the House bill
because it includes controversial provisions that
needlessly threaten critical FAA programs and jeopardize
thousands of public and private sector jobs.
"Congress needs to stop playing games, work out its differences, and pass a clean FAA bill immediately. There is no excuse for not getting this done," said Secretary LaHood.
"Important programs and construction projects are at
stake. This stalemate must be resolved." Secretary
LaHood also said, "I want to reassure the flying public
that, during this period, safety will not be
going to be forced to furlough valuable FAA employees unless
this situation is resolved quickly," said FAA Administrator
Babbitt. "These employees do everything from getting money out
the door for airport construction projects, to airport safety
planning and NextGen research. We need them at work."
Congress does not extend the FAA's authorities approximately
4,000 employees will be furloughed beginning Saturday July 23,
2011. Without the appropriate authority, taxes will not be
deposited into the Trust Fund to pay some FAA employees.
who are paid out of the Trust Fund handle a variety of functions
including: airport safety and engineering standards; airport
safety planning; the Airport Improvement Program, which
administers construction project grants to airports; and
Research, Engineering, and Development, which includes NextGen
research and testing. Congress has extended the FAA's
authorization 20 separate times.
full year extension, FAA will be unable to move forward on more
than $600 million in airport construction projects that include
good paying jobs for local communities across the country. Some
of these projects include:
GulfportBiloxi International Airport: proceed with construction of a terminal building expansion, rehabilitation runway lighting, rehabilitation of a taxiway, and rehabilitation of an access road.
RichmondInternational Airport: proceed with construction of a new apron
for terminal concourse A.
International Airport: proceed with construction of taxiway Y and Z
LaredoInternational Airport: proceed with the rehabilitation of the Engineered Material Arresting System which will help protect passengers if an aircraft leaves the runway.
during each of the previous 20 short term extensions, the FAA's Airport
Improvement Program has only received small portions of its $3.5 billion
in grant money.
As a result, states and airports have been left waiting to plan projects or begin construction since the total amount available is unknown. Some projects that are already underway are being constructed in stages and the total cost of the project will likely be higher as a result of that approach.
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