Hatch Calls for Long-term FAA Reauthorization
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, said it was imperative for Congress to enact a long-term Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill and criticized the Democrat-led Senate for not approving the House-passed reauthorization for the agency.
Hatch objected to the Senate Majority trying to jam through a version of the bill in order to protect a big union give away, instead of taking up the House-passed bill. Hatch believes Senate consideration of the House-passed bill would spur House and Senate negotiators to resolve a National Mediation Board rule change that dramatically lowers the threshold for how employees of airlines and railroads unionize.
“As my colleagues are likely aware, the House has completed legislative business for the week, so the only way to prevent a disruption to FAA funding is to pass Chairman Mica’s bill the House passed earlier this week. I worked with Finance Committee chairman Baucus to report a tax title, from the Finance Committee, to the bill that passed the Senate earlier this year,” said Hatch. “However, since then progress on a long-term reauthorization has been slow. I share House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Mica’s frustration that favors to organized labor have overshadowed the prospects for long-term FAA reauthorization.”
Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would extend the FAA’s operating authority into September. The measure included an Essential Air Service (EAS) provision that would slash $12.5 million in spending. Despite efforts to vote on the House-passed FAA reauthorization bill, Senate Democrats brought up a different FAA extension after the House had concluded legislative business for the week and created a partisan gridlock within the Senate. As a result, unless congressional action is taken by midnight tonight, the FAA will lose access to a portion of its federal funding.
Hatch delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor today:
Mr. President, I want to take a few minutes to explain my objection to the legislation just offered by my colleague. I want to make it absolutely clear that a long-term FAA reauthorization is a priority for this country and a priority for myself, and I’ve said as much repeatedly. The consent request just offered by my colleague, even if accepted, would not prevent a lapse of current. As my colleagues are likely aware, the House has completed legislative business for the week, so the only way to prevent a disruption to FAA funding is to pass Chairman Mica’s bill the House passed earlier this week. I worked with Finance Committee chairman Baucus to report a tax title, from the Finance Committee, to the bill that passed the Senate earlier this year.
However, since then progress on a long-term reauthorization has been slow. I share House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Mica’s frustration that favors to organized labor have overshadowed the prospects for long-term FAA reauthorization.
Last year the National Mediation Board changed the rules under which employees of airlines and railroads are able to unionize. For decades the standard has been that a majority of employees would have to agree in an election to form a union. However, the new NMB rules changed that standard so that all it takes to unionize is a majority of employees voting. This means that the NMB wants to count an employee who doesn’t vote, as voting for big labor. Somehow, organized labor is able to claim that it is democratic to appropriate someone else’s vote without that persons input and participation. The FAA reauthorization bill that passed the House earlier this year undoes this heavy handed rule, and lets airline employees decide for themselves how to use their own votes. The House bill would merely undo a big partisan favor done at the behest of big-labor, and put efforts to unionize airline workforces on the same footing they have been on for years. The House bill does not create a new hurdle to unionization; instead it restores the long-standing ability of airline employees to make decisions for themselves.
As I said, it is unfortunate that kowtowing to big labor has effectively grounded efforts to get a long-term FAA reauthorization off the ground. The lack of a long-term bill is bad for airports all across the country because they don’t have the funding stability to plan and complete projects. Kicking the can further down the road is not a viable alternative to actually doing what is in the best interest of passengers, commercial users of air transportation, and our airlines and airports.
As a Senate conferee to the FAA bill, I stand ready to do everything I can to break the cycle of short-term extensions, and to do something that hasn’t been done around here for more than 7 and a half years, and get FAA reauthorization off the ground.
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