Senate Democrat: We’re “Embarrassing”

Before Congress left for August recess, they passed a short-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. Congress has enacted 22 short-term reauthorizations in the 1,521 days since the last FAA full reauthorization expired. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who is working on a full reauthorization said, “This thing’s got to get going. Four years is a little embarrassing.”

Oh, really?

It certainly is embarrassing that an FAA bill hasn’t gotten through Congress in four years. But guess who has had control over Congress during that time? Let’s see…in 2006, Democrats won the mid-term elections and had complete control over Congress until…2010. It is now 2011. Democrats had total control during those four years, and Sen. Rockefeller was the relevant committee chairman for two of them! Basically, he is admitting that all the blame for this stalled bill lies with his party.

Despite the embarrassment, reports suggest bipartisan House and Senate negotiators are nearing a deal for a new, four-year FAA bill. Conservatives should be focused on two major issues.

The Essential Air Service program heaps the massive subsidies that go to rural airports. Sen. Rockefeller does not want the subsidies removed because they benefit rural airports in his state. These subsidies, occasionally costing taxpayers hundreds of dollars per ticket, simply subsidize airports that could not otherwise compete and survive. It’s not conservative, and it is a waste of taxpayer money.

But this isn’t the only battle that the FAA reauthorization faces. In March, we key voted against the LaTourette/Costello amendment to the House-version of FAA reauthorization, which would have struck down Title IX, which overturned a deeply flawed National Mediation Board decision. The decision in question itself overturned 75 years of precedent by ruling that only a majority of the workers voting in a union election were required to certify a union at airlines and railroads, instead of a majority of all the members of that workforce.

This decision could have forced a majority of workers who wanted nothing to do with a union to become part of a union simply because pro-union forces were able to organize quickly. Title IX needs to be left in the bill, as President Obama’s National Mediation Board should not be allowed to overturn 75 years of precedent in order to score political points and bolster union support.

It’s time to reauthorize the FAA bill. Title IX should be left intact and the massive subsidies should be limited.

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