'Tis the season to be shutting down entire portions of the government if the Republicans' demands aren't met.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) operating authority expires on Friday and the air travel safety agency may not open again Monday, since Congress has thus far failed to pass a re-authorization and funding bill. The FAA has been reauthorized without much controversy 20 times, but now, House Republicans are insisting on including a provision to weaken collective bargaining rights for airline workers.
Republicans want to overturn a 2010 ruling by the National Mediation Board, the federal agency that mediates labor disputes for airline and railroad workers, which would make union elections more fair and democratic by counting votes of only those voting, instead of all eligible workers. Naturally, Republicans are opposed to any expansion of workers’ rights and are now threatening to shutdown the agency if they don’t get their way, since the Senate has made it clear it will not approve the House version of the re-authorization bill and President Obama has vowed to veto it.
The FAA's operating authority ends on Friday, and if operating authority isn't extended, as many as 32,000 FAA employees may be furloughed.
There's more to it than just a desire to kill airline unions though, as ThinkProgress notes:
House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) added a provision that would eliminate federal subsidies to rural airports — specifically, those in states represented by key Democratic senators. The provision targets airports in the states of Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV), the majority leader; Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), chairman of the committee which has primary jurisdiction over FAA legislation; and Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the committee that has jurisdiction over the aviation tax portions of the bill.
When asked about the motives behind Chairman John Mica's provision to eliminate federal subsidies in districts represented by Democrats, Mica said "It’s just a tool to try to motivate some action to get this resolved."
Or in other words -- vote for our bill to weaken union rights and strip federal funding from your own districts or we'll shut down the entire FAA.
John Mica would also like a fully-fueled jet waiting for him on the runway so he can make a speedy getaway following the collection of his ransom.