The Two-Way
5:16 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

Reid Says FAA Shutdown Will Continue; Blames House, Delta Airlines

The Federal Aviation Administration has been in a partial shutdown mode since July 22. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the shutdown will continue, with some 4,000 federal workers remaining on furlough.

"It'll be closed until... maybe not September, maybe more than that," he tells All Things Considered co-host Michele Norris.

The FAA shutdown continues despite the end of weeks of debate over raising the federal debt ceiling — the House approved that legislation Monday, and the Senate followed suit Tuesday. President Obama signed the bill Tuesday afternoon.

An AP story reports that the "Senate continues to object to legislation approved by the House to fully fund the FAA. The bill includes cuts to certain subsidies for rural air service."

But Reid says the problem actually lies with one airline: Delta.

"The House has tried to make this a battle over essential air service," he says. "It's not a battle over essential air service. It's a battle over Delta Airlines, who refuses to allow votes under the new rules that have been passed by the NLRB [National Labor Relations Board]."

The issue, Reid says, is Delta's "non-union" stance. The bill to fund the FAA, as crafted by House Republicans, includes language that sets new rules for aviation workers' votes on labor representation.

As Eyder reported earlier today, the FAA shutdown has already cost the government more money than the disputed $16.5 million in cuts approved by the House. In fact, he wrote, the federal government stands to miss out on "more than $1 billion in revenue from uncollected airfare taxes."

Tuesday, the Senate tried but failed to "end a partial shutdown of U.S. federal aviation programs that have halted airport construction projects employing thousands of people," the AP says. But the effort failed, and now it will have to wait until September — at the earliest — as Congress will spend the rest of August on vacation.

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