We were invited to join a somewhat unique conference call this afternoon that just concluded with Democrat leaders from the United States Senate. Participants included Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-WV) and other Senators. The purpose of the call was described as a discussion about “the hundreds of thousands of jobs the FAA Reauthorization bill – Democrats’ first jobs bill of the 112th Congress – will support and create.”
After 17 short term extensions, it now looks like the Senate and the House are poised to advance the FAA Reauthorization bill.
Senator Reid (D-NV) stressed that the legislation would produce jobs, improve safety and modernize our air transportation system. He indicated the Senate is ready to act within days. He said that the Senate, “cannot let the bill be stymied by relatively small issues…this is an important jobs bill.” While the bill will not take up issues related to slots or passenger facilities charges, it was made clear that there will be opportunities to amend the legislation when it is brought to the floor.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) spoke of the importance of investing in legislation that can create jobs. He believes the FAA Reauthorization legislation will create jobs. And, he stressed the importance of implementing NextGen. He predicts the legislation will pass the Senate this week.
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Chairman, Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee praised the leadership for making the FAA Reauthorization bill the first of this legislative session of Congress. He spoke of the important economic contributions made by aviation “because people have to get places.” And, he spoke about the importance of satellite based navigation. He spoke about the significance of Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding.
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) indicated that “aviation jobs are big business in America.” She said she would work for passage of the legislation and outlined the benefits for Washington State and the rest of the nation. She also mentioned the fact that the legislation would increase safety, reduce delays and create jobs. She cited the importance of adopting the new technologies represented by NextGen initiatives.
The Senators were joined by Charles “Chip” Barclay, President, American Association of Airport Executives who outlined some of the specific benefits of the legislation.