If the debt ceiling debacle isn’t enough, our Congress has brought to a halt several California airport construction projects and threatens to cut more than $1 billion from the state’s federal highway program funding.

The airport cuts are a reaction to Congress’ failure last Friday (July 22) to pass legislation giving the Federal Aviation Administration the authority necessary for work to continue. As a result, dozens of stop work orders have been issued for infrastructure projects around the county and 4,000 FAA employees in 35 states have been furloughed without pay.

The California projects put on hold include a $31-million job to build a new air traffic control tower at Oakland International (Devcon is the general contractor); a $24-million project to build another air traffic control tower at Palm Springs International (Swinerton is the GC); and a $12-million modernization project underway at Palmdale Regional Airport (Cobalt Construction).

Additionally, the FAA has issued stop work orders for $370 million in contracts with Jacobs Engineering, Pasadena, for work in several states, including California. The company is contracted to do all the architect, design, engineering and planning services for existing and future air traffic facilities.

In addition to the FAA’s work on the construction of aviation facilities such as control towers, it is a primary funding source for other airport projects through the Airport Improvement Program
. The program is also unable to operate without congressional authorization and as a result the FAA is unable to get roughly $2.5 billion out the door for airport projects in all 50 states.

For more on the FAA situation, check out the latest from Washington, D.C. via bureau chief Tom Ichniowski’s latest blog.

Meanwhile, as you probably heard, the House recently passed a budget resolution and multiyear transportation authorization proposal released by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica that reduces California’s funding by more than $1 billion in fiscal year 2012 and remain at reduced federal funding levels for years to come.

Doing some quick emergency math, the Associated General Contractors of California responded that with the compounding factors, California stands to lose 43,000 jobs annually and $7.6 billion in cuts over the next five years.

“The ripple effect will be catastrophic,” said Tom Holsman, AGCC CEO, in a statement. “This will affect state matching funds, which will also be cut. At a time when our industry is facing over 20% unemployment, it is difficult to understand the apparent disregard of fully funding the infrastructure needs of our country.”

Holsman said that AGC and key members are pushing the California congressional delegation to enact a transportation reauthorization bill that protects the Highway Trust Fund and eliminates any further reductions.

And also on the House Republicans’ funding cut wish list is high-speed rail. More on this later.