FAA shutdown: Thousands not working

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The Senate passed a long-term bill in February and the House approved a different version in April. Lawmakers have resolved most of the differences between the bills, but no progress has been made on a half dozen other issues.

Among their key differences are air service subsidies for rural communities and a Republican proposal that would make it more difficult for airline workers to unionize.

Republicans say Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is insisting that a labor provision in the House bill sought by the airline industry be dropped before negotiations can continue.

The labor provision would overturn a National Mediation Board rule approved last year that allows airline and railroad employees to form a union by a simple majority of those voting. Under the old rule, workers who didn't vote were treated as "no" votes.

Republicans complain that the new rule reverses 75 years of precedent to favor labor unions. Democrats and union officials say the change puts airline and railroad elections under the same rules required for unionizing all other companies.

The White House warned in March that President Barack Obama might veto the bill if the GOP labor provision is retained.

Last week, the House passed what would be the 21st extension of FAA's operating authority. But this time Republicans included provisions in the bill that would eliminate $16.5 million in subsidies for air service to 10 small airports that are less than 90 miles from a hub airport and three other remote airports in Montana, Nevada and New Mexico where subsidies average more than $1,000 per passenger.

Senate Democrats say the House is trying to force them to accept policies that haven't been negotiated. They blocked passage of the House extension bill. Senate Republicans then blocked passage of a Democratic extension that doesn't include the air services subsidies provision.

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