Sen. Rockefeller 'angry' over FAA bill delays

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"The inability of the aviation industry to work together to address one of the most critical problems facing our nation — an aviation system that’s not ready for the 21st century — is an embarrassment," Rockefeller continued. 

The West Virginia lawmaker detailed a series of issues that have bubbled up in Congressional negotiations over FAA going back as far as 1996.

He included a fight over labor provisions that led to a nearly two-week shutdown of the agency earlier this year. Then, Senate Democrats accused House Republicans of inserting cuts to rural air service subsidies into a short-term extension of FAA in retribution for the Senate not going along with changes to union rules for transportation workers. About 4,000 workers were furloughed during the impasse between the chambers.

Rockefeller said the shutdown also made him upset.

"I do not understand how the fixation of one airline can be seen as paramount in such that the House would shut down the FAA to get its way," he said.  

Rockefeller said he was willing to get over the shutdown of the FAA, which aviation advocates said cost the federal government about $30 million per day in lost sales taxes on airline tickets.

"I have to move beyond the political ugliness of this summer," he said. "I want a bill.  I want a Next Generation Air Traffic Control System; I want a viable airline industry; I want modern airports; I want a healthy [general aviation] industry; I want a thriving workforce; and I want the good jobs that come with a growing U.S. aerospace industry.  I want our economic future to be strengthened by a vibrant aviation system."

But he warned the Aero Club of the consequences of the possible alternative.

"If the FAA bill does not pass soon, I believe it will be some time before an FAA Reauthorization package will pass any Congress," he said. "Another shutdown is not out of the question, and it would cost all of us far too much."