Nightly News | August 03, 2011
WILLIAMS: Good evening.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Right about now the anger of the American people toward their elected representatives in Washington is at a modern day high. In a down economy, people don't see the debate we've all just witnessed as relevant to their lives. We just watched Congress finish their business on the debt ceiling increase, heaving a sigh of relief, but as we've been reporting, they left Washington without resolving a standoff that has resulted in thousands of American workers being thrown off the job. This has to do with the FAA , the folks in charge of our air travel. Congress can't agree on their funding so a lot of projects have stopped. And in this job market , people need the work. We begin here tonight with NBC 's Lisa Myers .
LISA MYERS reporting: Construction at a new airport tower in Oakland is at a standstill, among more than 200 projects halted. In all, 70,000 construction workers have been laid off. Luca Toscano had to deliver the bad news to his workers in Brooklyn .
Mr. LUCA TOSCANO: It's telling them and looking them in their face is like telling it to their families, 'Sorry, we can't feed you today.' It's a hard feeling.
MYERS: Today, the president called on Congress to stop the bickering, stop hurting the economy.
President BARACK OBAMA: This is a lose-lose-lose situation that can be easily solved if Congress gets back into town and does its job.
MYERS: But today, Congress appeared stuck in the blame game.
Representative STENY HOYER (Democrat, Minority Whip): Unfortunately Republicans continue to practice the politics of confrontation and hostage taking.
MYERS: Republicans are insisting that any bill to temporary fund the FAA also cut subsidies for flights to rural airports. The government has had to subsidize every ticket to keep service running to many small airports.
Senator CHARLES SCHUMER (Democrat, New York): It's as if someone puts a gun to your head and says, 'Give me your money.'
MYERS: Republicans charge that Democrats have only themselves to blame. House Speaker John Boehner said, "The only reason so many jobs are at stake is Senate Democratic leaders chose to play politics." Yesterday, the administration had urged Senate Democrats to just give in to the House . They refused. Today the pressure was on both sides.
Mr. RAY LaHOOD (Secretary of Transportation): Come back to Washington . Leave your vacations. Just for a couple of hours, come back, Congress !
MYERS: For 4,000 furloughed FAA workers, all this is tough to swallow.
Unidentified Man #1: That's very, very scary. You know, I got a mortgage payment. I got two kids in college. I got student loans to pay.
Unidentified Man #2: It seems that these political party games are getting in the way of real people .
MYERS: Unless something gives, tens of thousands of workers will be without jobs for at least five weeks, and the government stands to lose more than a billion dollars in airline ticket taxes. Brian :
WILLIAMS: Lisa Myers starting us off at National Airport tonight. Lisa , thanks.