In our new era of Total Government Dysfunction, Congressional leaders decided to head to recess before passing a bill to replace Benjamin Franklin on the $100 bill with a picture of Barack Obama licking Ronald Reagan’s corpse, haha passing a bill to temporarily finance the Federal Aviation Administration, the agency in charge of making sure not everyone dies every time they board an airplane. Solving a huge fake problem in Congress is the new equivalent of solving one hundred critically urgent real problems, and Congress already “did” their one for now, see everyone in September! Meanwhile, the FAA is forced to hope airport inspectors are decent enough to take their congressional demotion to unpaid intern seriously and continue to make sure there isn’t total airport security collapse across the country.
Predictably, the partisan bickering centers partially around a $14 million subsidy for rural airports that is effectively rendered ridiculous by the $30 million loss in airline ticket taxes sustained each day of the shutdown. The other part is a fight over, what else, unions.
4,000 employees are also being furloughed, and Transportation secretary Roy LaHood had to shift gears from pleading with leaders to now just saying, “nobody panic, America’s actual professionals will not simply go home and watch the sky for little airborne fireballs to laugh at, like Congress.”
The NYT has the horrifying details:
After dealing with the debt crisis, Senate negotiators tried and failed on Tuesday to end a stalemate over temporary financing for the Federal Aviation Administration, leaving 4,000 agency employees out of work and relying on airport safety inspectors to continue working without pay.
The partial agency shutdown, which began on July 23 and is likely to continue at least through Labor Day, has also idled tens of thousands of construction workers on airport projects around the country. Dozens of airport inspectors have been asked by the F.A.A. to work without pay and to charge their government travel expenses to their personal credit cards to keep airports operating safely.
Air traffic controllers and airplane inspectors, who are paid with separate accounts, have continued to work, but workers who oversee research on aviation systems, grants for airports and facilities and operations equipment have been furloughed.
Oh well, at least it saves Ron Paul from having to vote “no” one more time. [NYT]