American president Barack Obama has called on Congress to resolve a funding impasse which has forced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to suspend infrastructure investment in US aviation.
FAA officials last month issued ‘stop work’ notices after Congress failed to pass legislation giving it the authority for work to continue.
Referring to the recent budget crisis – which was resolved at the last minute earlier this week, Obama said: “And there is another stalemate in Congress right now involving our aviation industry which has stalled airport construction projects all around the country – and put the jobs of tens of thousands of construction workers and others at risk – because of politics.
“It is another Washington-inflicted wound on America, and Congress needs to break that impasse now so these folks can get back to work.”
A total of 70,000 jobs could be on the line, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.
Since Congress refused to approve its budget 11 days ago, the Federal Aviation Administration has been without the authorisation to go about a portion of its daily business, which is costing taxpayers money and putting Americans out of work.
The shutdown lifted the requirement for airlines to collect certain ticket taxes, resulting in a loss of $250 million in revenue so far that would have gone to a trust fund that helps pay for airport infrastructure projects.
A shutdown through August could raise that total to more than $1 billion.
The agency has been forced to issue 200 stop-work orders and turn 70,000 construction workers away from their jobs at airports across the country.
The FAA also put approximately 4,000 public servants on unpaid leave in 35 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Every day this situation continues, the consequences mount, wrote transportation secretary Ray LaHood in The Hill today: “Runway paving, rehabilitation and extension projects are on hold.
“America’s transition from the radar-based airspace management system of the 20th century to the satellite-based airspace management system of the future is at a standstill.”