Press Release

July 28, 2011

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD) have co-sponsored legislation to provide back pay for nearly 4,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) workers who have been furloughed and are not getting paid after the House refused to vote on a “clean” funding extension to keep the agency open.  The bill would allow these employees to continue working with pay and benefits as Congress works to achieve a full FAA extension.   The bill would authorize payment for furloughed FAA workers from the Aviation Trust Fund.  

“There are 4,000 FAA workers across the nation who are not being paid and who are at risk of losing their health care coverage,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Budget and Finance committees. “The FAA is critical to the safe, efficient operation of our aviation system and this bill will allow the agency to end the furlough and put these federal workers back on the job with pay and benefits until we achieve a full FAA extension.”

“Right now 4,000 hardworking Americans, including many Marylanders are going without pay because House Republicans have decided to shutdown the FAA with their ‘my way or the highway approach,’” Senator Mikulski said.  “What they are doing is just plain dangerous.  It’s dangerous for our furloughed workers and their families and for our economy as a whole.  I will continue working with Senator Cardin to assure our dedicated federal employees receive the pay they deserve.”

Passage of the latest FAA extension has been held up over deliberations between the House and Senate over an amendment included in the Republican-led House FAA Reauthorization bill that would make it more difficult for airline employees to unionize.

Original sponsors of the Federal Aviation Employees Protection Act are Senators John D. (Jay) Rockefeller (D-WV) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA). In addition to Senators Cardin and Mikulski, other co-sponsors of the bill include: Senators Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI), John F. Kerry (D-MA), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Mark Warner (D-VA), Mark Begich (D-AK), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

Approximately 4,000 FAA employees in 35 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have been furloughed without pay since midnight Friday, July 22.  They also risk losing their health benefits after 30 days.  This includes almost 1,000 employees in the Washington D.C. metro area.  Additionally, by not approving an extension, approximately $200 million a week in airline taxes will not be collected and deposited into the Airport and Airway Trust Fund.