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$60 billion to go toward building aviation infrastructure through 2015

Posted by on Feb. 8, 2012 at 7:53 AM
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Senate approves long-stalled aviation bill

Updated 6:04 p.m. ET

The Senate voted Monday afternoon to approve a House-passed bill aimed at improving the nation’s aviation infrastructure and modernizing air traffic control systems. The bill would provide more than $60 billion in funding through fiscal year 2015.

The Senate voted 75 to 20, ending a streak of 20 short-term funding extensions for the Federal Aviation Administration since 2007 as Democrats and Republicans struggled over a longer-term bill.

The House passed the bill last week on a vote of 248 to 169, with most Republicans voting for it and most Democrats voting against it.

A last-minute change in the bill, negotiated by House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, made the vote on the measure into a litmus test of support for organized labor.

Democrats were critical of the provision in the bill that they said weakens the ability of unions to try to organize workers in the aviation and railroad industries.

“I don’t get why you hate unions and working people. I really don’t understand that,” Rep. Peter DeFazio, D- Ore., said to Republicans during the House debate on Friday.

And Rep. George Miller, D- Calif., called the labor union provision in the bill “an example of why it is counterproductive to negotiate with hostage takers.”

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But House Transportation Committee chairman Rep. John Mica, R- Fla., defended the labor provision saying, “it is fair to labor because it does requires a certain number of people to sign up to have the election” to determine whether workers want a union to bargain for them. 

Airlines for America, the trade group that represents major U.S. airlines, supports the bill, with the group’s president Nicholas Calio calling it "great news for aviation, our customers and the 10 million jobs we enable. The bill establishes a much-needed long-term reauthorization that addresses the significant issues that previously blocked the legislation from moving forward.”

In addition to the labor union provision, another contentious issue in the bill was whether to phase out a program called Essential Air Service, which ensures that more than 100 smaller cities retain some link to the national air transportation system. Under the program, the federal government subsidizes some air carriers who serve smaller cities such as Dodge City, Kan., and Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Rep. Tom Petri, R- Wis., chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee, said the bill will abolish “the most egregious subsidies” in the Essential Air Service program.

Democrats who supported the bill said they were pleased that it did away with a provision in the original House-passed bill that would have phased out the Essential Air Service program entirely.





by on Feb. 8, 2012 at 7:53 AM
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etsmom
by Member on Feb. 9, 2012 at 2:44 AM

Well, that means that unless the company my husband works for starts outsourcing their manufacturing, my husband will continue to have work.  That is all I have to say about that.....

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