FAA Shutdown Means Some Workers MUST PAY To Work - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

FAA Shutdown Means Some Workers MUST PAY To Work

WASHINGTON - The failure of Congress to authorize a budget for the Federal Aviation Administration has put some 4,000 agency employees and tens of thousands of contractors temporarily out of work. But even some FAA workers who haven't been furloughed find themselves in a peculiar financial jam.

Roughly 40 FAA inspectors have been asked to continue working despite the stoppage because their jobs are important for air safety. Yet since Congress hasn't allocated money to the agency, these employees have to cover their own travel expenses until the shutdown is resolved. Although their wages and expenses will eventually be recouped, these workers will end up covering work-related credit charges -- and possibly interest -- until funding is freed up.

The inspectors are among the thousands who will suffer the real consequences of congressional deadlock.

"It's incredibly unfair," FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. "We can neither pay them nor compensate them" for their expenses until the shutdown ends.

Babbitt and transportation secretary Ray LaHood had urged the Senate to pass a bill Tuesday before the chamber breaks for recess and lawmakers head home, leaving thousands out of a job until September. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) asked her colleagues to pass a House bill without its most controversial elements, but Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) objected to Boxer's request.

Largely lost in the all-consuming debt ceiling debate, the FAA shutdown is now closing in on two weeks. The agency hasn't had a long-term funding plan since 2007, instead relying on a series of short-term extensions, the last of which expired July 22.

House Republicans have left Democrats with few attractive options. The most recent short-term funding bill passed by the House cuts money for rural airports, including several that lie in states with Democratic senators. Meanwhile, the long-term funding bill passed by the House would make it harder for air and rail workers to unionize, a provision that could infuriate the labor community. >>>CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

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