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President Obama had the opportunity this week to make an irresponsible Congress face the consequences of its own dumb actions. For reasons I cannot fathom, he took a pass.

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The Federal Aviation Administration is preparing to partially shut down its operations and furlough up to 4,000 employees at midnight Friday after Congress could not agree on details in the legislation to extend the agency's authority.

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After an alarming gash appeared in the fuselage of a Southwest Airlines plane while it was in flight last Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration wisely elected to call for a large-scale inspection of Boeing 737s with an eye toward finding similar wear and tear.

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The FAA has proposed its largest fine ever over maintenance violations, which in this case could have caused fires and explosions, according to the regulator. American Airlines can appeal the fine, more than twice as large as the previous record-setting penalty.

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So now we know that pilots responsible for the safety of about a quarter of the flying public rest up for duty by catching a few winks in an airport lounge, or sleeping in idle aircraft or aboard a cross-country flight from their hometowns to their airport home base.

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