In a deal reached on Thursday, the Senate passed a temporary Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization, ending a Congressional stand-off that has allowed the FAA’s official authority to lapse. The Senate agreed to pass the House version of the Bill which included $16.5 million in cuts to Extended Air Service (EAS) subsidies- a program which provides subsidized air travel to several secondary airports, particularly those frequently used by prominent congressional leaders. The Senate had refused to pass the House measure because of the EAS cuts before adjourning for the August recess, prepared to furlough tens of thousands of FAA workers to protect lavish travel subsidies for themselves.
Unfortunately, the “deal” announced Thursday will restore the cuts to the EAS program, but without Congressional approval. Although the Senate passed the House’s version of the bill, Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood will strike out the EAS language. In effect, the Executive conspired with the Senate to carry out an end-run around the intent of the legislation, all to protect subsidized flights for politicians who don’t want to be bothered to use major airports. This is both a scandalous waste of taxpayer funds and a blatant abuse of executive power.
The fact that the Obama administration has used executive powers to retain a set of wasteful subsidies against the clear intent of legislation is part of a pattern of executive overreach. The administration has previously used or attempted to use executive power for the purposes of expanding EPA control over backyard ponds, regulating the internet, or preventing America’s largest exporter from opening a new plant in a business-friendly state. This ongoing pattern of overreach is contrary to the principle of the separation of powers and has been used in a way that is contrary to both economic growth and the wishes of voters. Those voters would do well to remember this record.