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US Aviation Officials Heading Back to Work


Planes take off and land at Washington's Reagan National Airport in Alexandria, Virginia, August 4, 2011

Planes take off and land at Washington's Reagan National Airport in Alexandria, Virginia, August 4, 2011

Tens of thousands of U.S. transportation and construction workers soon will be back on the job.

U.S. President Barack Obama signed an interim deal Friday ending a partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration, the agency that oversees the nation's airlines and air safety.

The U.S. Senate approved the legislation earlier Friday. It had already passed in the House of Representatives.

In a statement after the deal was announced Thursday, Obama praised lawmakers for ending a nearly two-week-long political stalemate, saying the shutdown was "an unnecessary strain on local economies across the country."

The interim deal puts 74,000 transportation and construction people back to work. It also funds FAA operations through mid-September. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it does not resolve key differences on future funding, something lawmakers will need to work out when they return to Capitol Hill next month from recess.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has called the measure a "tremendous victory" for American workers everywhere.

He said the shutdown halted $11 billion worth of airport expansion projects.

The partial shutdown, which started July 23, blocked the government from collecting taxes on airline tickets, often about $25 on a $300 round-trip flight. The shutdown cost the government about $30 million per day in lost revenue.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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