Barely a day after the dust cleared from the long, bruising battle over raising the debt ceiling, Democrats and Republicans in Congress launched their next war of words, this time over a once-routine reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Congress has passed 20 short-term funding bills for the agency since 2007 without much controversy. But because Senate Democrats object to certain provisions that Republicans in the House of Representatives attached to the current legislation to keep the FAA functioning, it's turned into a stalemate, with neither side backing down.
The Senate went into recess Tuesday without acting on the House bill, and Congress isn't scheduled to return until after Labor Day. While the impasse won't affect the flying public, it leaves thousands of FAA employees without paychecks for weeks and airport construction projects across the country at a standstill.
Congressional leaders blame each other for the deadlock.
"The House has done its job, and now it's time for senators to do theirs," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Democrats would have none of it on Wednesday. They want a "clean" bill, with none of the Republican strings attached.
"I call upon Speaker Boehner to end this," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "They should send us a clean extension so these people can get back to work."
President Barack Obama made it clear Wednesday that he wants Congress to act, preferably by the end of the week.
"I'm urging the House and the Senate to take care of this," Obama said at the White House. "This is an example of a self-inflicted wound that is unnecessary."
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, in a White House appearance, urged Congress to return from its summer recess and finish the job.
"Come back to Washington. Leave your vacations, just for a couple hours. ...