FAA In Limbo After Congress Misses Deadline
MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:
Good morning, Brian.
BRIAN NAYLOR: Good morning, Mary Louise.
LOUISE KELLY: All right. So what is the situation at airports this morning?
NAYLOR: Well, by all accounts things are fairly normal. Flights are departing and landing on schedule, because, as you say, the air traffic controllers are on the job.
LOUISE KELLY: So not too much of an impact so far then if you're trying to catch a flight today?
NAYLOR: In fact, there's projects in all 50 states that are going to be put on hold. And these construction workers will be idled in an industry where the unemployment is already pretty high, because the money for these projects comes from the aviation trust fund and that is inoperable because of the shutdown.
LOUISE KELLY: Brian, I understand one side effect of this is that it might be a really good day to buy an airline ticket, because you won't have to pay any tax on it.
NAYLOR: So if you're flying any of the major carriers - American, United, Southwest. They've all raised their fares. So you won't notice any difference. Some of the smaller carriers will pass that savings along to consumers, but most consumers won't notice any difference.
LOUISE KELLY: OK. So the big question: Why did Congress let the FAA authorization expire in the first place?
NAYLOR: However, those airports happen to be in some of the Senate leaders' states. And so it's almost like a little schoolyard squabble holding this bill up.
LOUISE KELLY: Brian, just quickly, you mentioned temporary authorizations. But they've ultimately failed to reach a deal. This sounds an awful lot like what we're seeing happening on a much larger scale with the talks over the debt ceiling.
NAYLOR: You're right, Mary Louise. You know, this is just small potatoes compared to the trillions of dollars they're talking about with the debt ceiling. But it's telling that, you know, something even this small as this can't be resolved. It's just indicative of how dysfunctional this Congress has become.
LOUISE KELLY: All right. Thanks very much, Brian.
NAYLOR: Thanks, Mary Louise.
LOUISE KELLY: This is NPR News.
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