The went into partial shutdown Friday after the House and Senate left Washington for the weekend with no agreement on an extension on the reauthorization bill that expired at midnight.
Earlier last week, the House approved an extension that included changes regarding Essential Air Service (EAS) for rural communities made to jolt the Senate into negotiating on the underlying bill, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) said. Instead, the tactic had the opposite effect. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) objected to the extension on procedural grounds, but then tried twice to pass extensions that did not include the EAS provisions. However, he could not get unanimous agreement of the full Senate.
Although air traffic controllers will not be affected by the unfolding drama in Congress, 4,000 non-essential employees were furloughed at midnight, and no funds for the aviation trust fund can be collected or paid.
The Aerospace Industries Association estimates the lost revenue at about $200 million per week and says the shutdown may also delay implementation of the Next Generation air transportation system. Kate Lang, the FAA’s deputy associate administrator for airports, detailed the impact of the shutdown in a conference call Friday to members of the aviation community, according to a note circulated to members of the.
All regional FAA offices will be closed, and only essential personnel will report to work. The FAA’s Office of Airports has stopped processing grants. Payments set for automatic payment will likely continue, but manual payments will stop, said a read-out of the call. Airport Improvement Program grants must be closed out by Sept. 24. Airports may be able to seek an extension if they apply by mid-August.