Debt ceiling time-out: White House appeals for FAA funding

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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The Obama administration took time out today from attempts to derail House Speaker John Boehner’s debt ceiling bill, in order to address still-stalled efforts to fully fund the Federal Aviation Administration. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the cabinet’s lone Republican, took the White House press podium today to appeal for passage of a gridlocked FAA funding bill.

LaHood said Congress’ disagreement over FAA spending has only held up research and construction projects, and does not threaten flight safety or airline schedules.

“There is no public safety issue here … safety is not compromised,” he said.

The FAA disagreement is not directly related to partisan disputes over efforts to raise the nation’s debt ceiling

LaHood did note, however, that the gridlock has ended airlines’ authority to collect tax dollars used for FAA projects. Those taxes amount to roughly $200 million per week.

Legislative disagreement over the FAA bill, he said, “costs real money to the Treasury … We’re trying to figure out if it can be made up.” LaHood also added that Congress should “pass a clean bill: Lets get back on track.”