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Tom Coburn
Sen. Tom Coburn (Photo:
Monday, Laurence Lewis explained how Republicans want to cut bike safety money from the transportation bill, despite (or because of?) the fact that spending on bike lanes improves safety and encourages clean energy transportation. Now, Sen. Tom Coburn is threatening to once again shut down the FAA over that funding.

Yesterday, the House passed short-term extensions for the FAA and surface transportation. But Coburn is holding up a Senate vote on that bill and a FEMA bill:

Here’s a little bit of a procedural explanation: The House of Representatives passed a joint bill yesterday to continue temporary funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and federal highway, transit and highway safety programs. Now in the Senate, the bill is being objected to by one Republican:  Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who is upset over the funding that states must invest in surface transportation as part of the Highway bill, which is tied to the FAA bill.

But to make matters more confusing and head-shaking the Senate’s $6.9 billion package to fund FEMA is also being dragged into this debate because of the Senate floor procedure. The Senate on Tuesday passed a cloture motion to proceed on the disaster aid bill, meaning procedurally the FEMA bill must be passed first. This basically puts a hold on the FAA/highway bill until FEMA is fully passed. But, some Republicans, including Coburn have concerns over the FEMA bill, too.

As of now, unless Senate Minority [sic] Leader Reid were to set aside the FEMA bill, and call up the FAA bill, which he likely will not do, the FAA bill is being held up, forced to be addressed second. The FAA bill though has a deadline, of Friday evening, when funds will run out.

Sen. James Inhofe told Politico that the funding Coburn is objecting is only 2 percent of the total. So the FAA could shut down again over Coburn's view that 2 percent of the funding in a transportation bill is going, not to the important bike safety projects it's actually intended for, but to purely decorative purposes. That would put 4,000 FAA employees out of work again before they've gotten their back pay from the previous shutdown, and would halt airport construction projects employing tens of thousands of construction workers, with time running out before winter hits northern states and some projects become impossible to complete.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 01:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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