Senate Passes Short-Term FAA Bill

The House of Representatives passed a short-term bill to fund the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over two weeks ago. Until this morning, the bill has been sitting in the Senate, as Democratic Senators opposed cutting back massive ticket subsidies to rural airports.

At the forefront of the opposition, and the one primarily blamed for blocking the bill, is Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). The White House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the House of Representatives had all agreed to the short-term deal that has already been passed. Sen. Reid even said:

“I have said that we have 80,000 jobs at least on the line…The Essential Air Service is a program that I believe in, but I also believe that $3,500 per passenger is a little extreme.  That’s what Ely, Nevada is.  and I think as we — we learned with this big deal we’ve just done, sometimes you have to step back and find out what’s best for the country and not be bound by some of your own personal issues.  And I’m willing to give that up.  I hope the other senators would do the same.”

The White House even pushed the Senate to accept the extension. President Obama called the impasse “another Washington-inflicted wound on America.” Of course, he was trying to make voters believe that conservatives were blocking the passage, when in fact, the blame rested squarely on Sen. Rockefeller.

You see, Mr. Rockefeller also presides over a district with one of those rural airports that would receive cuts to their “extreme” ticket subsidies. And while Sen. Reid was surprisingly willing to give up some of that subsidy, Sen. Rockefeller was not.

As a result, the Senate sat on this funding extension for two weeks, allowing President Obama and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to cast blame and even implored Senators to accept the extension.

Still, Sen. Rockefeller refused to vote. With all the recent talk about “terrorists” and “hostage-taking” and asserting that people may lose their jobs or pay higher interest rates, Sen. Rockefeller’s “intransigence” on rolling back subsidies is ironic.

After a week of sustained pressure, the Senate took up and passed the House-passed extension today. In order to stop Rockefeller’s blockade, Secretary LaHood assured him that he has the short-term extension gives him the authority to override the subsidy cuts. So basically, it was a clean extension.

Never fear though, because the extension will expire shortly and come September we’ll be right back here again, as Congress tries to agree on a long-term extension that’s been held up by liberal’s “intransigence” on labor issues.

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