Would Republicans shut down the FAA?

It just never ends with these guys.

A quarrel between the House and Senate over union organizing by airline and railroad workers could lead to a shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA’s operating authority expires on Friday. The agency has operated under a series of 20 short-term extensions since Sept. 30, 2007, because lawmakers have been unable to agree on a long-term funding bill.

If you’re thinking, “This must have something to do with Republicans hating unions,” give yourself a prize.

In the House version of the FAA measure, Republicans included a measure to make it much more difficult for aviation and rail workers to unionize. The larger dynamic can get a little complicated, but the bottom line is this: under the status quo, workers can get together and hold a vote. The majority wins. Under the Republican proposal, workers who don’t participate in the vote would be counted as “no” votes. The point, of course, would be to make it extremely difficult for workers to organize.

In the Senate version, the FAA is funded without the union-busting measure.

As the AP report explained, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is willing to pass another temporary extension — the 21st in a row — while the chambers keep fighting, but only if Senate Democrats agree to eliminate funding for 13 rural airports, specifically targeting airports in the home states of Harry Reid (the Senate Majority Leader), Jay Rockefeller (chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee), and Max Baucus (chairman of the Senate Finance Committee that has jurisdiction over the aviation tax portions of the bill.

The White House weighed in today with a Statement of Administration Policy, explaining that the administration supports another temporary extension, but won’t accept the House GOP scheme to deliberately punish rural airports as part of a childish, partisan scheme.

And if this isn’t resolved fairly soon, the FAA would be shutdown. Air traffic controllers, designated “essential workers,” would remain on the job, but 16,000 other FAA employees would face furloughs.

Imagine, just for a moment, how much smoother the U.S. government would function if the House Republican caucus included grown-ups — or if the caucus were back in the minority.

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