Some encouraging news today for Federal Aviation Administration employees who spent the last two weeks on forced furloughs: A bipartisan group of House members has introduced a bill to pay them for the time off.
Now that those workers are back on the job, “my focus is to get them back pay and to ensure this avoidable situation never happens again,” Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-.N.J., whose district includes an FAA technical center, said in a news release. Also signing on to the legislation are House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., and several other lawmakers.
In a fracas that probably didn’t enhance Congress’ rock bottom public approval ratings, almost 4,000 FAA workers were left temporarily jobless July 23 after lawmakers got hung up on a stopgap renewal of funding legislation. They returned to work Monday after a short-term deal was reached to end the impasse, but it’s Congress’ decision on whether to reimburse them for the time in between. Senate Democrats also plan to pursue back-pay legislation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said last week.
But nothing else is likely to happen until lawmakers return early next month from their August recess. And still to be seen is whether House GOP leaders line up behind the legislation, which would likely cost an FAA trust fund millions of dollars.
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, did not reply to several emails in recent days inquiring about Boehner’s position on the issue. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., is out of pocket today, according to a spokeswoman who could not say where he stands on LoBiondo’s bill.