FAA Facing Prospect of Another Shutdown

The Federal Aviation Administration is among the federal agencies facing the prospect of another shutdown this year as Congress remains mired in debate over issues such as border wall funding. Some federal agencies, including the Department of Transportation—which encompasses the FAA—and the Department of Homeland Security, have been operating under a temporary funding measure that extends through December 7.

Concern is beginning to grow in Washington that Congress is headed toward an impasse and what would be the third funding lapse in 2018. The government shut down from January 20 to 22 and then for nine hours on February 9.

When the January shutdown occurred, the FAA outlined a plan that involved the furlough of nearly 18,000 employees affecting activities such as airman certificate issuance, unmanned operation exemptions, rulemaking, facility inspections, dispute resolution, and financial activities, among others. The FAA also closed the aircraft registry, but the most recent FAA reauthorization shields that from further shutdowns. Air traffic controllers have been exempt from the shutdown.

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The bill would reimburse certain airports and businesses affected by TFRs and would call for better Part 135 incident reporting data.

The majority of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Transportation Security Administration have been exempt from shutdowns, including border patrol activities and security screening. But activities such as planning, research and development, regulatory, training, and other policy functions would halt.

The National Air Transportation Association told members it is monitoring the situation, and it outlined the current situation: “As President Trump and congressional Republicans are looking to acquire funding for numerous projects before the end of the year and end of a Republican-led Congress, including money for a border wall, Democrats hope to drag out passage of big legislation until the new Congress resumes, unless big incentives are included like immigration reform.”