Democratic Senate Refuses to Approve FAA Funding, NBC Still Blames House GOP

On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams fretted: "There's still enough congressional gridlock to go around....One thing that did not get resolved today, a stalemate over the Federal Aviation Administration budget. And partisan bickering on this one is costing real Americans, tens of thousands of workers, costing them their paychecks."

Correspondent Lisa Myers quickly found who to blame for the deadlock: "The partisan bickering centers on the insistence of House Republicans that any bill to keep the FAA operating also curb costly subsidies for flights to and from 13 rural airports, some in the states of powerful Democrats."

Despite the fact that the House already passed a bill funding the FAA and that only the Democrat-controlled Senate had failed to act, Myers still declared: "Now the House has left town for the rest of the summer without ending the stalemate, meaning these workers could be laid off for five more weeks."

A brief sound bite was featured of Republican Florida Congressman and House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica defending the cost-cutting in the House legislation: "All we're trying to do is end these wasteful subsidies, some as high as $3,700 a ticket." However, Myers quickly added: "Democrats accused Republicans of a stunning display of politics over people." A clip followed of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer denouncing the GOP.

At the very end of the report, Myers finally mentioned that even the White House was calling on Senate Democrats to pass the House bill: "Tonight the Administration is pressing the Democratic Senate to give in to the House. But at this hour there is no deal, and that means 74,000 workers could be without paychecks for weeks."
                            
On NBC's April 15 Today, then-co-host Meredith Vieira interviewed Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood and asked if the Republican bill bringing the FAA budget back to 2008 levels "would negatively impact aviation safety."


Here is a full transcript of Myers' August 2 report:

7:09PM ET

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Well, this doesn't solve everything. There's still enough congressional gridlock to go around, even though they acted on the debt ceiling. One thing that did not get resolved today, a stalemate over the Federal Aviation Administration budget. And partisan bickering on this one is costing real Americans, tens of thousands of workers, costing them their paychecks. Our report tonight from NBC's Lisa Myers.

LISA MYERS: In the last 10 days, 241 airport modernization projects around the country have been shut down, laying off 70,000 construction workers. Also sent home without paychecks, 4,000 FAA employees.

DAN STEFKO: We feel like we're pawns in a political game.

MYERS: Dan Stefko, an FAA engineer in Pittsburgh, says the loss of pay hurts everyone.

STEFKO: I'm concerned with whether or not I'm going to be able to pay my mortgage.

MYERS: Now the House has left town for the rest of the summer without ending the stalemate, meaning these workers could be laid off for five more weeks.

RAY LAHOOD [SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION]: This is not the way to treat people. This is not – the money is there for these construction projects to go on. All Congress has to do is pass a bill.

MYERS: The partisan bickering centers on the insistence of House Republicans that any bill to keep the FAA operating also curb costly subsidies for flights to and from 13 rural airports, some in the states of powerful Democrats.

JOHN MICA [REP. R-FL]: All we're trying to do is end these wasteful subsidies, some as high as $3,700 a ticket.

MYERS: Democrats accused Republicans of a stunning display of politics over people.

STENY HOYER [REP. D-MD]: Because they passed a bill and said to the United States Senate, 'Either you take it our way or it will be no runway and no highway and no way.'

MYERS: Meanwhile, the federal government is losing $200 million a week in airline ticket taxes. In most cases, that savings is not being passed on to the public but, instead, being pocketed by the airlines. Tonight the Administration is pressing the Democratic Senate to give in to the House. But at this hour there is no deal, and that means 74,000 workers could be without paychecks for weeks. Lisa Myers, NBC News, Washington.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC