WASHINGTON, DC—As we reported last week, airport construction projects throughout the United States remain in limbo after Congress allowed the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) budget to expire. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood continues to call for a resolution to this issue, citing the catastrophic effects it is having on the construction job market in the US.
Roughly 70,000 construction workers are currently out of a job thanks to the insistence on the part of the Republican-led Congress to cut government spending and dismantle labor unions regardless of the larger impact on the US economy and job market.
The FAA’s authority to operate expired last Friday after the US Congress couldn’t agree on a deal to keep it open. The dispute centered mainly around Republicans' negative views toward unions and labor rights.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has urged lawmakers in Washington to set aside their petty partisan bickering and focus on the big picture. With the current state of the economy, now is not the time to be sending tens of thousands of construction workers to the unemployment line over an ideological dispute.
More than 150 airport construction projects have been put on hold around the US since last week. That is roughly $2.5 billion worth of contracts that should be going toward the construction industry but instead are being held up in Washington.
Those numbers also don’t take into account the 4,000 airport employees that are also sitting at home without a pay check. Only air traffic controllers, test pilots and safety inspectors remain on the job during the FAA shutdown.
The US Government is also losing out on roughly $200 million a week in airline tickets taxes that the FAA can no longer collect. Given the current debate over the budget going on in Washington, the country could use all of the additional revenue that it can get its hands on to help reduce the federal deficit.