ABC News’ Mary Bruce ( @marykbruce ) Reports:
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood urged lawmakers today to come back from their summer vacations and vote on legislation to end the Federal Aviation Administration shutdown.
“Come back to Washington! Leave your vacations! Just for a couple hours, come back, Congress!” LaHood said at the White House press briefing today. “End your vacation for a couple days, get off the beach, get out of your mobile homes or whatever you're traveling in, come back to Washington, pass a bill.”
It’s been over a week since the FAA shut down for the first time in history after Congress failed to pass a bill to continue its funding. For twelve days now, nearly 4,000 FAA employees have been furloughed and as many as 70,000 construction workers have been out of work.
“When it comes to creating jobs, members of Congress give a lot of great speeches…They talk the talk, but they have not walked the walk,” LaHood said. “For members of Congress to give speeches about jobs and then go on their vacations while construction workers have vacated their jobs rings very hollow.”
LaHood said that Congress “could easily” have passed a bill and put people back to work but instead, they opted to go on vacation. “Congress turned a blind eye to these workers and their families,” he said.
“What I want done is what Congress has done on 20 other occasions,” LaHood said. “Pass a clean bill and work out your differences. They've done it. They know how to do it. They've done it in a short period of time. That's what they need to do. This is not fair to these people. These are people that work hard.”
In addition to the employees who are out of a paycheck, the Treasury will also lose roughly $1 billion in uncollected taxes because of the shutdown. “Everybody's concerned about debt and deficit. Well, the way to tackle part of the debt and deficit is to have this $1 billion in taxes collected, which it won't be,” LaHood said.
The Secretary was adamant that Americans can still have faith in the safety of the skies. “I can say, without equivocation, safety will never compromised, flying is safe, and passenger schedules should not be compromised by this issue,” he said.
To keep things running smoothly, however, roughly 40 FAA safety inspectors across the country are continuing to work for free. “They're working every day doing their job making sure that airports are safe, making sure that the safety inspections they do are done by the book. And I hope the American people are proud of these people,” LaHood said.