House moves toward showdown with Senate on FAA

By JOAN LOWY | July 20, 2011 | 3:29 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House is taking a step toward a showdown with the Senate that could lead to a shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration and the furlough of about 4,000 workers.

House members passed a Republican-sponsored bill Wednesday extending FAA operating authority through Sept. 16. The bill would eliminate subsidies for airline service to 13 rural communities.

Senate Democrats say they won't let the bill pass the Senate with the subsidies provision. The White House also opposes including the subsidies provision.

The FAA's operating authority expires at midnight Friday. Its 15,500 air traffic controllers are considered essential employees and would continue to work even if the agency were shut down.

The root of the dispute is a GOP-sponsored attempt to change a labor organizing rule.