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Senate Approves FAA Extension; Tens of Thousands Can Go Back to Work

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood calls the approval of the FAA bill "a tremendous victory for American workers everywhere"

I am thrilled this morning that the Senate has approved an FAA bill.  It is a tremendous victory for American workers everywhere.

I'm thrilled for our dedicated FAA employees who will be able to go back to work on Monday.  And I'm thrilled for the tens of thousands of hardworking workers who can go back to airport construction sites around the country.

As a matter of fairness, we will also do everything we can to get Congress to provide our furloughed employees with the back pay they deserve.

This was really no time to stop work on so many critical airport improvement projects -- right in the middle of the construction season. But now, these good workers can get back on the job Monday doing the work they want to do, earning a good wage, and taking care of their families. And I am very, very happy for them.

I want to thank President Obama for his attention to this situation.  Even during the days of intense debt and deficit discussions, he insisted to me, "Take care of our employees. Take care of the construction workers. Figure this out.  Get it done."

So that's what we did.  We worked with Congress day and night to figure out a way to get these people back on the job.  And, thanks to the leadership of Senators Reid, Rockefeller, Hutchison and Baucus, we got it done.

Now, before we get too carried away, let's remember that this extension only lasts until September 16; there's still work to do so we can get a long term FAA bill.

But I'm optimistic that, with so many jobs on the line in these tough economic times, Congress can work out its differences.  President Obama really put his finger on it when he said, "We can't afford to let politics in Washington hamper our recovery."

From construction workers to our dedicated FAA employees, they will all have the security of knowing they are going to go back to work and will get a paycheck -- and that's what we've been fighting for.

We have the best aviation system in the world, and we intend to keep it that way.