GOP Leaders Boehner, Cantor Brazenly Misrepresent Who 'Played Politics' With FAA

August 04, 2011 10:02 am ET — Alan Pyke

To hear House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) tell it, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is shut down right now because of Democrats. Call it the latest evidence that the GOP leadership will always tell you the opposite of what's really happening.

By the time the default crisis got resolved, the FAA's authority had already expired, halting billions in airport construction projects and laying off tens of thousands of construction workers who had been working on projects like these. In a statement yesterday, Cantor blamed the Senate: "Last month, the House passed a responsible measure to extend FAA funding with bipartisan support. Since that time, the Senate has dragged its feet and played politics with tens of thousands of American jobs." Boehner agreed, but blamed Democrats rather than just "the Senate":

The only reason so many jobs are at stake is Senate Democratic Leaders chose to play politics rather than pass the House bill.

Unfortunately for Boehner and Cantor, their Transportation Committee Chairman is on the record being honest about what happened with the short-term extension. Rep. John Mica (R-FL) was very clear last month that it's Republicans who are using the FAA and construction workers as political leverage to jam through anti-union legislation:

The latest stumbling block is over a change to the extension that zeroes in on a provision that is of top importance to U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Transportation and Science Committee. The provision adds a $1,000 per-passenger cap on subsidies to the Essential Air Service (EAS) program to rural communities that would effectively eliminate the service at three airports, including one in the home state of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [....]

The House added the EAS policy riders as a way to extract concessions on the NMB provisions, according to Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who also spoke at the conference.

"It's just a tool to try to motivate some action to get this resolved," Mica says, adding that the NMB issue is being moved "at the highest leadership levels of the House and Senate and beyond my ability to resolve."

Regular readers may recall last spring's fight over a union election provision in the long-term reauthorization of the FAA, when House Republicans led by Mica successfully reverted to the old, ridiculous process whereby non-voting workers would be counted as "no" votes. That's "the NMB issue" that Mica is talking about above.

It was an "anti-union vote that has nothing to do with the aviation system," as fellow Republican Rep. Steve LaTourette (OH) said on the House floor at the time. The White House promised to veto. But House Republicans attached it to the long-term reauthorization anyhow, which is how we got stuck with another series of short-term extensions.

Now they're jamming up the latest short-term bill too, in hopes of creating "a tool to try to motivate some action" among Senators who support workers' rights, but whose states also have rural airports that rely on federal subsidies to operate (and employ Americans). Their ringleader is even bragging about that political gamesmanship at press conferences. (Others, like Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), have decried the Republican trick as "not honorable" and "not fiscally responsible.")

But Cantor and Boehner, reliable as ever, are right there telling the press that up is down.