WASHINGTON -- A partisan stalemate that has partially shut down the Federal Aviation Administration will continue into September after congressional attempts to reach a deal fell through Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) initially told reporters that he would be willing to accept a House Republican bill to restore the FAA's operating authority even though it contained cuts in subsidies for rural air service that some Democrats oppose. But he later reversed course after a possible deal with House Republicans had fallen through.
The Senate was due to leave for its August recess Tuesday. The House left Monday.
"Republicans are playing reckless games with airline safety," Reid said in a statement. "We should not let ideology interfere with making sure that Americans' air travel runs as smoothly and safely as possible."
The FAA's operating authority expired on July 23, as well as the authority of airlines to collect about $30 million a day in ticket taxes, meaning the government will be unable to collect about $1.2 billion in taxes if the shutdown continues until lawmakers return next month.
Nearly 4,000 FAA employees have been laid off, including 16 employees in the district office in Garden City and six at the New York Air Traffic Control Center at MacArthur.
Stop-work orders have been issued for more than 200 construction projects, including three at Islip Town airports. Air traffic controllers have stayed on the job, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said safety won't be compromised and travelers won't be inconvenienced.
Republicans blame Democrats for the shutdown, saying they have been unwilling to accept minor cuts to a rural air services program long criticized as wasteful. But Democrats said the air services cuts were being used as leverage to force them to give in to the House on a labor provision in a separate, long-term FAA funding bill that would make it more difficult for airline workers to unionize.