LaHood Urges Congress to Reopen FAA

July 28, 2011 - 11:29 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is urging lawmakers to pass a bill to put the Federal Aviation Administration back in business.

The agency's authority to operate expired last Friday when Congress couldn't agree on keeping the agency open because of underlying partisan disputes, largely over labor rights and other issues.

Nearly 4,000 employees were temporarily laid off and work stopped on more than 150 airport construction projects around the country. The government is also losing money because airlines can't collect about $200 million a week in airline ticket taxes.

Air traffic controllers remain on the job.

LaHood said Thursday that some 70,000 construction workers are sitting idle as a result. Given the state of the economy, he said now is not the time for Congress to lay off 70,000 people.