REPUBLICANS PLAYING POLITICS WITH AIR SAFETY

For Immediate Release:

October 31, 2003

Contact:Stacey Farnen
202-225-3130

WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) lambasted the Republican FAA Reauthorization conference report on the House Floor today – particularly the absence of a prohibition of privatizing air traffic control towers, which was included in the original House and Senate bills.  The following is Rep. Hoyer’s statement as prepared for delivery:

“Mr. Speaker, the Republican leadership has turned what should be a bipartisan achievement into a partisan travesty.

“When we passed this legislation by a vote of 418 to 8 on June 11th, we explicitly barred the privatization of air traffic controllers.  The Senate bill, which passed 94 to 0, went even further.  It extended that protection to airways system specialists.

“But then, the Republican leadership hijacked this legislation.  It adopted a conference report that stripped out the language barring privatization.  Instead, it allowed 69 air traffic control towers to be turned over to private companies, which must always put the bottom line first.

“And it removed the protections for airways system specialists; removed mandatory anti-terrorism training for flight attendants; and permitted foreign airlines to raid U.S. markets.  Even Republicans balked at these changes.  And that’s why we had to send the report back to conference.“But, Mr. Speaker, without the explicit prohibition on privatization that was included in the bill we passed in June, the administration is free to move forward with privatization.  And that is simply not acceptable.

“The flying public deserves better.  They need to know that the people on the ground responsible for air safety are not being forced to cut corners to save a few bucks.  I urge my colleagues to vote for a fair process and vote for public safety by voting down this rule.”

###