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FAA May Furlough Thousands Of Workers At Midnight

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(Source: AP)

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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami.com) – Florida is poised to lose $88 million in airport construction money if Congress can’t or won’t approve a new Federal Aviation Administration spending bill by midnight.

“If we are not able to fund these projects, these people that are working on these projects will have to leave the job site on Saturday,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

A total of about 4,000 FAA workers will be furloughed if the House and Senate don’t agree on a spending bill. But, all safety critical FAA workers will remain on the job and travelers won’t see a difference.

The problem separating the two sides mirrors the disputes recently in Ohio and Wisconsin. House republicans and the airline industry want to make it more difficult for workers to unionize. GOP leaders also want to end government subsidies for airline service to 13 rural airports.

Ironically, the same House Republicans have refused to end government subsidies to oil companies.

Senator Jay Rockefeller said in a speech on the Senate floor that overall, the FAA could only continue to operate air traffic and support services through mid-August.

A long-term funding bill for the FAA hasn’t been in place since 2007. Congress has passed 20 straight temporary funding bills. But Senate Democrats said Republicans are using the current bill to force them to accept policy changes that should only be part of a long-term deal.

Florida Republican John Mica acknowledged that he’s using the current bill to force Democrats to cut a deal on the labor provision and other issues on a long-term bill.

The specific labor provision would overturn a Naitional Mediation Board rule that would allow airline and railroad workers to form a union by a simple majority of those voting. Previous rules counted workers who didn’t vote as “no” votes.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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