Rahall, Costello: Republicans Should Not Fly Home for Vacation before Finding a Solution to end the Senseless FAA Shutdown

Aug 1, 2011

—$30 Million per day Republican-led Shutdown of FAA Jeopardizing the Jobs of Nearly 90,000 American Workers and 3,600 FAA Aviation Experts—

Washington, D.C.– On the tenth day of the Republican-led shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that has cost tens of thousands of American jobs and nearly $300 million in lost revenue, U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and U.S. Representative Jerry Costello (D-IL), top Democrat on the Aviation Subcommittee, today demanded House Republican leaders act to end the senseless shutdown before adjourning for the month of August.

“Since the Republican majority manufactured this crisis by attaching a controversial policy rider to the FAA extension bill, House Republicans have taken no action to resolve this issue and put American construction workers and FAA’s safety engineers back to work,” wrote the lawmakers in a letter to Majority Leader Eric Cantor.  “It would be irresponsible for the House Republican leadership to even consider adjourning when we should be staying to find a solution to this senseless shutdown.  At the height of the summer travel season and construction season, and with more than 1.3 million construction workers out of work, it is inexcusable that Congress would leave so many American jobs in jeopardy.”

The Republican-led FAA shutdown has caused the FAA to issue 217 stop-work orders on $11 billion worth of air traffic control and safety-related contracts and that number will continue to grow as long as Republicans refuse to move this process forward.  The Republican ‘my way or the runway’ shotgun approach to negotiating the future of our Nation’s aviation system has jeopardized nearly 90,000 American jobs, furloughed 3,600 engineers, safety analysts, and aviation experts, and has cost nearly $300 million in lost revenue.

“As Members of Congress fly back to their districts this week, they may not even notice that our Nation’s world-class aviation system has been partially shuttered by Republican intransigence,” said the lawmakers.  “But for the 87,000 American workers whose jobs are in jeopardy, the stop-work orders that have been issued over the last 10 days to construction crews and FAA contractors from coast to coast are all too real."

Every Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee joined together last week to introduce the “Aviation Jobs and Safety Act of 2011” (H.R. 2644), a clean FAA extension bill that would authorize the aviation programs through the end of Fiscal Year 2011 (September 30, 2011).  The clean extension, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation and a wide variety of organizations, would help turn the lights back on at the FAA while a long-term reauthorization is finalized.

“House Republican leaders have the ability to solve this shutdown today and help put 3,600 aviation engineers, scientists, and experts back on the job.  Republicans could act today to no longer jeopardize the jobs of nearly 90,000 American workers,” said the lawmakers.  “There is no legitimate reason why the future of our aviation system deserves to be negotiated at gunpoint.  Stop the political games.  Do not penalize the people who help keep our skies safe.”

Pending enactment of a long-term FAA reauthorization bill, Congress has passed 20 short-term extension acts without controversial policy provisions since 2007.  Breaking with precedent, the 21st short-term extension that the House Republican leadership crafted and the House recently passed contained extraneous policy riders that had not been agreed upon in advance.  Despite being warned that such provisions could not pass the Senate, Republican leaders chose to attach these provisions to a must-pass, short-term funding extension and forced a partial FAA shutdown at a cost of $200 million per week in lost revenue.

The full text of the letter follows:

August 1, 2011

 

The Honorable Eric Cantor
House Majority Leader
Office of the Majority Leader
H-329, The Capitol
Washington, DC  20515

Dear Majority Leader Cantor:

Ten days ago, all of the capital programs of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shut down when the most recently enacted short-term FAA extension act expired.  As a result, nearly 87,000 family-wage American jobs are in jeopardy; nearly 4,000 FAA engineers, safety analysts, and aviation experts are furloughed without pay; and the Nation has lost more than $275 million in revenue to the Aviation Trust Fund. 

These job and tax losses compound with each passing day that Congress does not act to pass a clean, short-term FAA extension act.  We urge you to schedule H.R. 2644, the “Aviation Jobs and Safety Act of 2011”, for consideration in the House today.   

Since the Republican majority manufactured this crisis by attaching a controversial policy rider to the FAA extension bill, House Republicans have taken no action to resolve this issue and put American construction workers and FAA’s safety engineers back to work.  Moreover, it is our understanding that the Republican majority may propose to adjourn the House for the August District Work Period after both Chambers vote on legislation to address the debt ceiling – with no action to resolve the FAA issue. 

It would be irresponsible for the House Republican leadership to even consider adjourning when we should be staying to find a solution to this senseless shutdown.  At the height of the summer travel season and construction season, and with more than 1.3 million construction workers out of work, it is inexcusable that Congress would leave so many American jobs in jeopardy. 

The Republican-led FAA shutdown has caused the FAA to issue 241 stop-work orders on $11 billion worth of air traffic control and safety-related contracts, and that number will continue to grow as long as Republicans refuse to move this process forward.

As Members of Congress fly back to their districts this week, they may not even notice that our Nation’s world-class aviation system has been partially shuttered by Republican intransigence.

But for the 87,000 American workers whose jobs are in jeopardy, the stop-work orders that have been issued over the last 10 days to construction crews and FAA contractors from coast to coast are all too real.

House Republican leaders have the ability to solve this shutdown today and help put 3,600 aviation engineers, scientists, and experts back on the job.  Republicans could act today to no longer jeopardize the jobs of nearly 90,000 American workers.  There is no legitimate reason why the future of our aviation system deserves to be negotiated at gunpoint.  Stop the political games.  Do not penalize the people who help keep our skies safe.

To break this impasse and put Americans back to work, we urge you to schedule H.R. 2644 for consideration in the House today.  Enactment of a clean FAA extension act is supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Republican Leader of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, National Association of State Aviation Officials, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Airports Council International-North America, American Association of Airport Executives, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, Laborers’ International Union of North America, California Airports Council, and the City of Houston.

We urge you to work with us to help tens of thousands of Americans get back to their jobs ensuring that the United States aviation system remains the best in the world.

Sincerely,

Nick J. Rahall, II
Ranking Member
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

Jerry F. Costello
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Aviation

cc:      
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives
The Honorable Steny Hoyer, Minority Whip, U.S. House of Representatives
The Honorable John L. Mica, Chairman, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

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