The Federal Aviation Administration has told contractors working on airport construction projects nationwide to stop work, now that Congress has failed to extend the agency's authority.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood continued to urge Congress to renew legislation that would have kept the projects going, citing the impact of potentially thousands of construction workers losing their jobs. “Unless Congress acts quickly, more work on projects critical to our nation’s aviation system will come to a halt," FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement. The stalemate, which has partially shut down the FAA and resulted in about 4,000 agency employees being put on furlough, is the result of a political squabble between House Republicans and Senate Democrats, who can't agree on details of an FAA bill regarding unionization rules and subsidies for rural airports. Congress had until midnight Friday to avert a partial shutdown of the FAA, and it failed to meet that deadline. Projects that were halted include construction of communications facilities and air traffic control towers, as well as installation of radio transmitters and work on fire alarms. Ironically, the sudden halt in the construction projects could ultimately increase the total costs, of the projects FAA officials say, all at a time when lawmakers are preaching the merits of deficit reduction and lower spending. Additionally, new contracts for projects that haven't been launched yet have also been suspended, since the agency no longer has the authority to access a fund that pays for the work. FAA officials say they're now unable to spend $2.5 billion they had available for airport construction, expansion and modernization. That money would have been spent on projects in all 50 states. To see which projects were subject to FAA "stop orders," view the map below.
View FAA Stop Work Orders in a full screen map