NY Dem angry over aviation safety bill as special election ballot gets finalized

New York Democrat Kathy Hochul was joined by her GOP rival in sharply rebuking the House Republicans for pushing through an amendment Friday that they said curbs the federal government's ability to impose aviation safety regulations.

The measure, which was championed by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), was opposed by the Families of Continental Flight 3407, a group representing the victims of the February 2009 crash of a flight from Newark to Buffalo. Fifty-one people died in the disaster, which was partly attributed to crew fatigue.

Hochul, who is running in the 26th district special election, said the House of Representatives has "disgraced the lives of the victims of Continental Connection Flight 3407" by narrowly passing the bill. According to the Buffalo News, the amendment creates new procedures that the Federal Aviation Administration must follow when writing new flight safety rules. Critics say the amendment will make it harder to combat pilot fatigue and regulate training practices.

"I once again echo my cries that we must enact major changes to how the airline industry operates and vow that once elected to Congress, I will not stop fighting until these aviation protocols are brought to fruition," Hochul said in a statement.

"While Rep. Shuster (R-PA) and 214 of his colleagues champion the influence of special interest money, I will fight for the people of Western New York when I represent the 26th District. I will work hand-in-hand with Rep. Brian Higgins and Rep. Louise Slaughter in finding a way to keep these much needed reforms alive and keeping our families and loved ones safe."

Republican Jane Corwin broke with her party and joined Hochul in criticizing the amendment's passage. 

"The amendment offered by Rep. Shuster of Pennsylvania is an affront to the Families of Flight 3407's hard-fought efforts for aviation safety reforms and is a direct attempt to undo this 'one level of safety,'" Corwin said in a statement Friday. "If I was in Congress today for this vote, I would have adamantly opposed it and would have conveyed to other members the human toll that this amendment [threatens] to take."

Hochul and Corwin are the top two contenders in the race for former Rep. Chris Lee's (R-N.Y.) seat.

Corwin got a boost Friday when Iraq war veteran David Bellavia failed to make the May 24 ballot. Wealthy businessman Jack Davis, however, did make the ballot. Davis had sought the GOP nomination and has previously run for Congress as a Democrat.  

--Updated at 5:53 p.m.