WASHINGTON – Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee filed legislation Tuesday that would fund the FAA without cutting grants for rural air service, which has produced the holdup that led to FAA workers being furloughed.
The Hill reported on Tuesday the ranking Democrat on the panel, Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said that his Republican counterparts should accept a “clean” FAA bill now that the agency has issued stop-work orders to about 4,000 employees.
Rahall said the measure is backed by every Democrat on the committee.
“Instead of negotiating at gunpoint and forcing the Senate to adopt its ideological assault on the American worker, House Republican leaders should end their senseless shutdown of the FAA by bringing this clean extension to the floor for a vote today while a long-term FAA reauthorization is finalized,” he said in a statement released Tuesday by his office.
“Republicans should stop jeopardizing the jobs of nearly 90,000 American construction workers and penalizing the people who keep our skies safe by holding their job hostage to their ‘my way or the runway’ approach,” he continued.
Two days later, Rep. John Mica sent out a “Dear Colleague” letter to House members.
He wrote, “Let me share with you some of the facts concerning the current partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).”
He listed 17 topics he stated were facts, including “six days after the FAA shutdown, Senate Democrat leaders continue to block a vote on a bipartisan-passed House FAA extension and have failed three times in the last week to pass their own extension.”
He continued hitting the Senate.
“Senate leaders have chosen to protect political pork and outrageous subsidies of nearly $4,000 per ticket on the backs of 4,000 furloughed FAA employees.”
He stated “The House extension contains Senate-passed language reforming the Essential Air Service (EAS) Program, including cutting any ticket subsidies in excess of $1,000 per ticket, which affects only 3 airports.”
He noted, airline service for Ely, Nev. “is subsidized an incredible $3,720 per ticket.”
Mica added, “Every ticket subsidy eliminated by the House-passed extension is also eliminated by the Senate’s long-term FAA bill, which it approved in February (see sections 420 and 421 of Senate bill S. 223).”
Mica added several more items which he said were facts.
Over in the Senate, Democratic Sen. Chairman Jay Rockefeller and Aviation Subcommittee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell yesterday wrote to the CEOs of the nation’s 12 largest airlines, including Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson of Atlanta, questioning them on whether the airline companies are in fact generating nearly $30 million a day in additional profits by exploiting a passenger ticket tax holiday in the wake of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shutdown.
“We are writing to confirm whether your company is one of the airlines generating profits by exploiting its own customers,” Rockefeller and Cantwell said in the letter. “Like the ‘ancillary fees’ that many airlines now charge for blankets, checked luggage, priority seating, and itinerary changes, this recent fare increase has further damaged the industry’s relationship with airline passengers.”
That follows a letter they sent a letter to the head of the Air Transport Association (ATA) urging the industry to reconsider their decision to gouge customers with fare increases that matched the fare levels before the FAA lost its authority to collect aviation excise taxes. Following the ATA’s response that they could not speak on behalf of particular air carriers on the matter, the Senators moved to write to the individual airlines directly for answers.
The pair also wrote similar letters to United-Continental, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, US Airways, Alaska Air Group, .JetBlue Airways, Republic Airways Holdings, Hawaiian Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Virgin America, and Allegiant Air.