FAA Shutdown Likely to Last
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shutdown widely predicted happened as the FAA ran out of money last Friday and has been forced into a partial shutdown. Officials were quick to reassure travelers that the shutdown does not affect air traffic controllers or other officials directly concerned with traveler safety.
It does, however, mean that airport construction projects across the country were put on hold, and thousands of FAA employees are no longer drawing salaries.
Travelers may pay a little less for their airline tickets, because they no longer have to pay airport taxes used to fund the FAA. Those taxes are at the heart of the reason the FAA got shut down.
Congress hasn't renewed the FAA's authority to collect those taxes, which bring in $30 million a day to the FAA. Without that authority, the FAA can't collect the taxes, and without the taxes, the FAA has to cut its budget by $30 million a day. Hence, 4,000 employees are "furloughed" and countless private contractor employees are also without jobs.
Of course, many airlines, seeing an opportunity to increase their profits, raised prices by at least 7.5% to cover the drop in price from airport taxes.
The dispute in congress revolves around whether taxpayers should subsidize flights to 13 small-town airports. Republicans in the House, where they hold a majority, want the subsidizes to stop, but Senate Democrats want them to continue. The stand-off is likely to continue. The Washington Post reports that there are no negotiations between House and Senate leaders to resolve the issue.
And Congress this week is likely to be focused on resolving the issue of the national debt reaching the debt ceiling.