By Keith Laing - 07/19/11 07:47 PM EDT
"As a result, the FAA has continued to operate under a series of short-term extension acts that are slowing airport construction projects and costing taxpayers millions of dollars and the nation tens of thousands of family-wage jobs," Rahall continued. "On behalf of the Democratic members of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, we write to urge you to agree to a conference with the Senate on H.R. 658, appoint conferrers, and let the conference committee work its will — in an open and transparent process — on the controversial issues included in the House-passed Republican bill."
Last week, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) said he was introducing another short-term bill to keep FAA funding at current levels, the 21st such stopgap measure.
“It is unfortunate that we have been put in this position, again, by the current Senate leadership, who refuse to negotiate in the best interest of the American public,” Mica said Friday in a statement released by his office. “When Democrats controlled the House and Senate, Congress also failed to act, and unfortunately Democrat tactics have not changed. Our nation’s aviation system cannot operate effectively under the Senate’s ongoing political gamesmanship.
"Clearly, some in the Senate have made a political decision to put special-interest labor provisions above the safety of our nation’s aviation system,” Mica added of the labor provisions both sides agree are the sticking point in negotiations.
The current 20th stopgap FAA bill is set to expire July 22. The new version would include changes to the Essential Air Service that are included in the Senate version of the long-term FAA bill. It would place a limit of 90 miles from a large or medium airport on EAS eligibility.