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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida's John Mica embroiled in FAA showdown



mica.jpg Rep. John Mica, the Orlando Republican who chairs the House transportation committee, is a protagonist in the latest Washington drama: A fight over funding for the Federal Aviation Administration that is costing 4,000 FAA workers a paycheck and putting thousands of government contractors in limbo.

It started when the House passed a funding re-authorization that also stripped out less than $20 million in funding for rural airports. But Democrats, who insist on a "clean" re-authorization, say the GOP is trying to undercut new rules making it easier for workers to unionize by a simple majority vote. Republicans charge Democrats with trying to protect "pork" spending in the form of subsidies to provide commercial airline service in far-flung areas. As the two sides duke it out, the government is missing out on $200 million a week in uncollected airline ticket taxes. And now Congress is on vacation for a month.

Amid it all is Mica, who again lashed out at critics today.

"We have been willing to compromise, willing to negotiate, find common ground," Mica said in a statement. "But powerful Senate Democrats have chosen to protect an airline ticket subsidy program on the backs of thousands of FAA employees and airport construction workers.  Now they plan to engage in a personal and political media bludgeoning of folks who disagree with them.  I remain ready to negotiate in good faith and get those people back to work."

The stalemate has put the brakes on $88 million in construction or research projects in Florida, including $20 million in research at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach. Full list here. It has also placed 26 FAA workers in Florida on furlough.

AP story on the dispute is here.

[Last modified: Wednesday, August 3, 2011 6:09pm]


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