Senate passes FAA bill, ends shutdown

Yesterday, officials identified the way to end the partial, two-week FAA shutdown. This morning, they approved the plan and let industry workers get back to their jobs.

The Senate passed legislation Friday temporarily restoring full funding to the Federal Aviation Administration, breaking a political impasse and allowing roughly 4,000 furloughed federal employees to return to work.

Passage of the bill also promises to restore tens of thousands of jobs in the construction industry and elsewhere tied to airport improvement projects put on hold as a result of the funding shortfall.

The bill took less than one minute to pass a nearly empty Senate chamber.

Apparently, the best way to make the Senate function is to send nearly all of its members home.

And while this represents a sort of progress, let’s not forget that the reprieve is temporary. This morning’s Senate move extends the status quo for a little while, but with this measure expiring in mid September, the problem will start anew.

For House Republicans, it’s simple: they’ll approve a longer-term reauthorization just as soon as they make it nearly impossible for industry workers to unionize. Democrats aren’t willing to go along with the GOP’s union-busting tactics, and thus far, haven’t buckled.

So the parties keep the fight going indefinitely. The probability of Republicans forcing yet another shutdown is fairly high.

In a statement this morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, “Republicans like Representative John Mica are already threatening to force these 74,000 Americans out of their jobs again when this extension expires on September 16th. With millions of Americans struggling, we cannot afford for Republicans to hold common-sense jobs bills hostage to the Tea Party’s ideological agenda. I hope Republicans will come to their senses and put the interests of the middle class ahead of the Tea Party and favors for airline CEOs.”

For his part, Mica, the House Transportation Committee chair responsible for pushing this stunt, is apparently annoyed that “a lot of people hate me now.” I guess we’re supposed to feel sorry for him?

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.