Air travel tax collection has been temporarily suspended after Congress couldn't come to an agreement about FAA union policies and funding, making airline tickets less expensive. However, it is not yet clear whether airline passengers will have to pay those taxes once an agreement is reached.
Nearly 4,000 people are temporarily out of work and federal airline ticket taxes have been suspended after efforts to avert a shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration failed Friday amid political wrangling over a $16.5 million cut in subsidies to 13 rural communities.
Lawmakers were unable to resolve a partisan dispute over an extension of the agency's operating authority, which expired at midnight Friday.
The subsidy cut was included by Republicans in a House bill extending operating authority for the FAA, which has a $16 billion budget. Senate Democrats refused to accept the House bill with the cuts, and Republican senators refused to accept a Democratic bill without it. Lawmakers then adjourned for the weekend.
But underlying the dispute on $200 million in rural air service subsidies was a standoff between the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate over a provision in long-term funding legislation for the FAA that would make it more difficult for airline and railroad workers to unionize.
Obama administration officials have said the shutdown will not affect air safety. Air traffic controllers will remain on the job. But airlines will lose the authority to collect about $200 million a week in ticket taxes that go into a trust fund that pays for FAA programs.