Congressman Adam Smith, Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, made the following remarks on the extension of the Federal Aviation Administration budget authorization until September 16:

"I am glad to see the gridlock in Washington D.C. will no longer be costing 4,000 federal employees and 70,000 construction workers their paychecks. However the situation is still in limbo and the outcome of the long-term budget negotiations could still harm workers and the economy.

"It's important to recognize that the shutdown on July 23rd was entirely preventable. After passing 20 short-term extensions since 2007, this time Rep. John Mica introduced a cap to the Essential Air Service funding that helps rural airports stay open. Representatives were asked to choose between funding the FAA and supporting small town airports that connect underserved communities with the national transportation and economic grid.

"This roadblock put thousands of jobs and federal contracts into question, and lost the government $400 million in uncollected taxes over the past two weeks. That is why I cosponsored H.R. 2644, the “Aviation Jobs and Safety Act of 2011,” a clean extension of FAA authorization that would have averted a shutdown without political obstacles until Congress could agree on a long-term bill.

"Now that the Senate has approved the short-term House extension, the next hurdle will be resolving the conflict between both chambers’ versions of a long-term FAA funding bill. The Senate appointed conferees on their bill months ago, while the Majority leadership in the House has yet to move forward. Until the House acts, negotiations over a long-term FAA bill remain in a stalemate. Local South Sound businesses, the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle, airlines, city and state governments are all impacted by this toxic uncertainty. It stands in the way of updating our radar systems, aircraft, airports, and many other important infrastructure projects.

"It is time to proceed with a comprehensive, long-term plan that can realistically achieve bipartisan support. Come September, if we cannot find a solution to this impasse, Congress could once again be leaving thousands of workers in the lurch and scrambling to pass a short-term extension. For the sake of protecting the American worker, House leadership needs to appoint conferees and move the FAA reauthorization process forward as soon as responsibly possible."