The FAA Hobbles Back to Life

| Thu Aug. 4, 2011 4:35 PM EDT

Our hardworking members of Congress have finally agreed to keep the FAA running:

Under a deal Reid made with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Senate will pass the House bill that includes cuts to rural flight service to airports in Nevada, West Virginia and Montana. But Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will use his authority to waive the airports from the cuts, ending a 13-day impasse.

....The House and Senate passed a 20th short-term extension of FAA funding in May when the chambers both passed versions of the longer-term bills that were drastically different. The House version included provisions that would undo changes to labor rules that were adopted by the National Mediation Board to make it easier for railroad and airline workers to unionize.

So this is now the 21st short-term funding bill, and it will pass only because its actual provisions are meaningless. Yay Congress. A real bill remains held up indefinitely because Republicans are more interested in union busting than in — well, than in almost anything.

There is nothing — absolutely nothing — that Republicans feel more strongly about than union busting. That includes taxes, abortion, welfare spending, overseas wars, gun rights, tort reform, oil drilling in Alaska, and every other alleged conservative hot button. In the world of actual action — as opposed to the world of rhetorical fireworks — the only thing that even comes close is keeping taxes on the rich low.

This should tell you something about the real-world power of organized labor in the broader political economy. It's something conservatives have understood well for a long time.