NATION

Federal Aviation Administration will partially shut down over partisan dispute

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The 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 democratic rules required for unionizing all other companies.

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

Just before he blocked the Democrats' extension bill, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he shared House Republicans' frustration "that favors to organized labor have overshadowed the prospects for long-term FAA" funding.

Another unresolved issue involves about $200 million in air services subsidies to rural communities. The program was created when airlines were deregulated in 1978 to ensure continued air service on less profitable routes to isolated communities. The House long-term FAA bill would eliminate the program except for airports in Alaska.

The Senate bill would eliminate service to 13 communities that are either less than 90 miles from a hub airport or where subsidies total more than $1,000 per passenger. That's the language House Republicans added to their extension bill.

But one of the biggest defenders of the program is Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate committee with jurisdiction over FAA legislation. One of the airports that would lose subsidies is in Morgantown, W.Va.
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