JOB-KILLING F.A.A. SHUTDOWN
► In today’s Seattle Times — FAA standoff idles state workers, projects — When Congress left this week for its summer recess without renewing temporary funding for the FAA, it all but ensured five more weeks without pay for 4,000 furloughed FAA employees, including 215 in the Puget Sound region. What’s more, it will keep idle $13.6 million worth of aviation projects in Washington state. Since the partial FAA shutdown began Saturday, the agency has issued at least six work-stop orders in the state for projects that include installing new runway lights at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and rehabbing the air traffic control center in Auburn.
► In the Wenatchee World — Partial FAA shutdown puts Pangborn project on hold — The congressional stalemate has put a hold on $1.4 million in improvements at East Wenatchee’s Pangborn Memorial Airport. “This is congressional politics gone amok,” said Airport Manager Greg Phillips of a stalemate that has halted $2.5 billion in airport construction grants for more than 150 projects nationwide. “It’s clearly not about economics.”
► In today’s Washington Post — Furloughed FAA workers take case to Capitol Hill — Members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association say they have been caught in a pointless political spat that could have far-reaching consequences on their lives. “It’s impacting us today, and it’s impacting our future,” said one. “It doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand what it’s over.”
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — FAA dispute jeopardizes airport projects in Spokane, CdA — A $3.3 million grant to finish a runway reconstruction at Spokane International Airport and a nearly $1 million grant for a building at Coeur d’Alene’s airport are stalled because of the dispute.
► In today’s NY Times — The FAA, after the Republicans (editorial) — Republicans have been holding the reauthorization of the FAA hostage for months, trying to get Democrats in the Senate to agree to weaken transportation workers’ rights. Unless the vacationing Congress takes extraordinary action, nothing will change until after Labor Day, at the very least. By then, the extortion will have cost the government around $1 billion. Thousands of people will have gone without a paycheck for at least four more weeks. And critical repairs at airports will not have been made. There is no excuse.
► In today’s Peninsula Daily News — State labor council, irked by lack of local pact, may boycott dam removal fete — A statewide labor group will vote Saturday on whether it will ask all public officials including elected representatives and “friends of labor” to boycott the Sept. 14-18 celebration marking the beginning of the removal of the Elwha River dams. Lee Whetham, president of the Olympic Peninsula Building and Construction Trades Council, said the $324 million dam removals project — the largest in the nation’s history — should not be celebrated because the Park Service didn’t create a project labor agreement.
► In today’s Peninsula Daily News — Union approves Port Townsend paper mill contract — A contract has been settled with the United Steelworkers Union local at the Port Townsend Paper Corp. mill. The contract, effective from March 1 of this year through Feb. 28, 2014, calls for a 1.5% pay hike this year; another 1.5% hike effective March 1, 2012; and a 1.75% hike effective July 1, 2013.
► In The Hill — Senate leaders reach deal paving way for trade deals — They agree to a deal that will guarantee a vote on an assistance program that helps workers hurt by trade deals known as Trade Adjustment Assistance. Republicans had objected to linking the program to trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. The agreement clears the way for votes in the House and Senate on the three deals, which President Obama insists would create jobs in the U.S. It will also set off a fight between Obama and much of organized labor, which opposes the agreements.
► In The Hill — Republicans trap Obama on economy — Congressional Republicans are running economic policy these days, but President Obama owns the results.
► At TPM — Legislating by crisis: A chronicle of coming hostage dramas on Capitol Hill — When they won an extension of the Bush tax cuts in December 2010, before their newly elected members were sworn in, Republicans settled on a strategy that works — and they’ll have plenty of opportunities to employ it again in the months ahead. After the debt limit bill passed but before leaving town, House Republicans passed a take-it or leave-it, one-month extension of FAA funding that cuts funds rural airports, including some in the states of key Democratic senators. The message to the Senate was clear. Pass our plan, or 4,000 FAA employees, and tens of thousands of contractors won’t have work this August. So far Democrats have refused, and there’s some chance that both the House and Senate will reconvene to settle the issue more equitably. But considering the Democrats’ record this past year, Republicans have little incentive to give in.
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