The partial FAA shutdown continues, and it's having an effect
across the country. In Traverse City, Michigan, where crews had been working on an air traffic control tower:
"It's very frustrating," Klein said. "It puts about 50 construction workers out of a job. But about 200 people are involved in this some way—designers, engineers, vendors, delivery folks. It's going to be a hardship on them."
Projects to improve safety are also taking a hit:
The FAA has also told airports to stop work on the installation of runway status lights, a new safety system aimed at preventing planes from colliding on the ground or taking off or landing on closed runways. At McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, construction officials were told Monday that they have until the end of the week to wrap up their work and then stop. Construction on a new airport tower has also been delayed.
A quick look through the list of stop work orders shows several safety-related projects that are being stopped.
Meanwhile, Republicans are apparently insisting that the shutdown is about subsidies for rural airports. Democrats just want to continue providing these wasteful subsidies, blah blah blah. The AP reports it as "Republicans say this, Democrats say that," which is bad enough, but the Washington Post buys it wholesale. An article there attributes the shutdown entirely to the rural airports.
But what the Washington Post either genuinely does not realize or is willing to go along with Republicans in pretending that it does not know is that Republicans are threatening these rural airports in order to get their way on the real issue: union rights for airline workers. Republicans want to go back to an old system in which if you are eligible to vote in a union representation election and you do not vote, you are counted as a no vote. It's a blatantly antidemocratic system, and it's what this shutdown is about. Rural airports subsidies are one more tool to try to win that issue, and it's not just me saying so:
The House added the EAS [rural airports] policy riders as a way to extract concessions on the NMB [union rights] provisions, according to Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who also spoke at the conference.
“It’s just a tool to try to motivate some action to get this resolved,” Mica says, adding that the NMB issue is being moved “at the highest leadership levels of the House and Senate and beyond my ability to resolve.”
If the NMB provision were resolved, “the rest can fall into place within 20 minutes,” Mica says.
Don't get me wrong. I'm sure that Republicans would love to force Democrats to give up help to their rural constituents, which Republicans would then use in 2012 to claim that Democrats don't care about rural areas. And maybe by now in the too-familiar process of Republican "negotiating," the rural aid has also become non-negotiable. But it's not where this started and it's unlikely to be where this ends. Right now, the truth of the matter is that FAA employees are furloughed and construction projects across the country are halted so that Republicans can force on unions a voting standard that would be held up as evidence of dictatorship if it was applied to a nation. And any media outlet reporting otherwise is reporting a lie. The fact that it's a lie Republicans are telling about their own motivations doesn't turn its repetition into credible reporting.