Congress reached a deal Thursday to fully fund the Federal Aviation Administration, saving the jobs of thousands of transportation and construction workers nationwide who have sat in limbo, including some on Long Island.
The deal will extend the FAA’s operating authority until mid-September and includes $16.5 million in cuts in air service subsidies to rural communities, once it’s finalized. Officials at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma rejoiced at the news.
“We are delighted to hear that Congress has finally reached an agreement that will put aviation back on track in America,” Town of Islip officials said through a spokeswoman. “It’s a shame it went this far, but we’re glad the FAA employees can get back to work and MacArthur airports projects can move forward again.”
The deal came hours after two members of LI’s congressional delegation gathered at LIMA to urge their colleagues to return to Washington to work out a deal after they went into recess until September.
Dozens of construction projects in New York State were put on hold due to the expiration of the FAA’s operating authority.
“It is a relief that thousands of New Yorkers will be back on the job, however Republicans have to stop injecting politics into everything, including how we manage our airports,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) said in a statement.
Over 2,000 FAA and construction workers in the state received furlough notices. Jim Anzaldi, an FAA engineer who works at the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center just outside LIMA, said he had already filed for unemployment after he was told two weeks ago not to return to work the following Monday.
“It’s just tragic,” said the father of two, whose wife is nine months pregnant. Anzaldi said there had been warnings in the past concerning furloughs, but said “the tone with this one was different.”
He was joined by other union members who chanted “Stop the war on workers.”
LIMA Commissioner Teresa Rizzuto joined the lawmakers to call for an agreement, adding that two key construction projects were halted due to the shutdown.
“We try very hard to stay upbeat,” she said. “We try to stay very positive, and we want to because we want to keep this airport ready.”
-With Associated Press