FAA Furlough Ends… For Now

US federal aviation workers are to start work again after the Senate closed a deal to end the country's debt crisis – just a day before its deadline.

The US Treasury reached its current debt limit in May and has existed on "extraordinary measures" since then. Those funds ran dry today, the same day on which the US had to file for a higher debt limit or do without.

Republican and Democratic leaders have now agreed to end the 16-day impasse and raise the country's $16.7tn debt, with Obama signing off on the deal this morning. The clash over budgets – which included Republican demands to slash the President's healthcare plan, Obamacare – resulted in the first government shutdown in 17 years.

An estimated 700,000 federal staff were sent home without pay, including 3,000 aviation staff. Of the latter, many were safety inspectors crucial in signing off maintenance work and aircraft prior to deliveries.
With the debt limit raised, workers can now return to their jobs and the government has promised back pay. "Our country came to the brink of disaster," Democratic leader and Senator, Harry Reid, said. "This legislation ends a stand-off that ground the work of Washington to a halt."

But hold on because it's not over yet. The federal borrowing limit will only be increased until February 7, funding the country until January 15. At this point, the US may reach another stalemate and FAA staff may yet again be furloughed. Yes, disaster may strike twice.

Indeed, the bill passed today does not cover many of the disagreements waged between the two parties, such as tax reforms; all that is yet to be disputed.

Rating firm Standard & Poor's said the "debt ceiling impasse, if short-lived, likely won't affect our rating on the US". However, the ordeal has already cost the US economy $24bn.

The financial impact on the aviation industry is as yet unknown however, the political ramifications are clearer. As previously discussed, the furlough may put the government in breach of the Chicago Convention and rules laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), both of which set safety standards.
We wait for the next instalment!

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