Minnesotans must be asking themselves … WWJOD ???
What Would Jim Oberstar Do … as ya gotta wonder if Jim Oberstar would have allowed the House to go on its August Recess if Congressional self-inflicted intransigents forced a function of government to shutdown over Essential Air Service (EAS) reform ?
The fact is that Jim Oberstar’s voice is missing in Congress … replaced by Raymond Cravaack (R-MN-08) on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure … and the impact is on tens of thousands of workers nationally … and in Minnesota … Honeywell in Coon Rapids LAAS (Local Area Augmentation System) project has been issued a Stop Work Order, as has Honeywell in Golden Valley for its Lifecycle Maintenance of Avionics and Laboratory Technical Services projects, as has the work by Sensis Corporation in Minneapolis on the airport’s Runway Status Lights project as well as Science Applications International’s project of Engineering support for Runway Status Lights, as well as Jacobs Engineering architect work at the airport … and those are just a few of the 253 Stop Work Orders that the Federal Aviation Administration has issued involving Contracts or Tasks worth $10,496,512,222. The domino effect will be felt by families and suppliers to those companies … and in the end the taxpayer may end up paying more for the projects as suppliers have to “pack up and move away”.
The statement from the FAA said:
Construction workers, engineers, and planners were told not to come to worksites across the country after the FAA was forced to issue stop work orders on projects ranging from the construction of new air traffic control towers to the rehabilitation and modernization of air traffic facilities. Nearly 4,000 FAA personnel, many needed to oversee various aspects of these projects, were furloughed on Saturday. Stopping work on these projects could significantly increase the ultimate costs of construction for taxpayers.
According to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) the “aviation trust fund that will lose over a billion dollars” because of this impasse.
Is this madness or strategy ?
Well, consider the analysis of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reflecting on the resolution of the debt ceiling increase :
“I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting. Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s work ransoming.”
That’s Today’s GOP … looking for hostages … and in this case it is workers right here in Minnesota.
John Mica (R-FL-07), the current Chairman of the Transportation Committee issued a statement rationalizing his legislation :
“The House bill also includes language to eliminate exorbitant subsidies of more than $1,000 per ticket at three airports, including Ely, Nevada, where each ticket is underwritten $3,720 by the federal government. The House bill cuts $16.5 million from a program that has increased over 300% to $200 million each year.
A little background on the $16.5 million. Essential Air Service (EAS) reform would limit EAS eligibility to communities located 90 or more miles from a large or medium hub airport and resulting in approximately $12.5 million in annual savings. There is also a subsidy cap at $1,000 per passenger would eliminate three additional communities from the EAS program and save an additional $4.1 million annually. The current per passenger subsidy rates for these three airports are: Ely, Nevada, $3,720; Alamogordo/Holloman AFB, New Mexico, $1,563; and Glendive, Montana, $1,358.
While it is true that the subsidy has been increased to $200 million, the cost of jet fuel is the driving factor for that increase.
The EAS program was originally created as part of the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 featuring a subsidy to help out small and rural airports as the government stepped back from regulating routes and fares. EAS service involves a number of airports in Minnesota, such as : Thief River Falls (TVF), Hibbing (HIB), International Falls (INL). According to Google Maps, Thief River Falls is only an hour and nine minutes from Grand Forks, North Dakota … so Minnesota’s loss will be North Dakota’s gain.
NOTE : Raymond Cravaack (R-MN-08) is the Chair of the Essential Air Service Working Group.
According to the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), Airports Council International (ACI), American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE),: “Cutting Essential Air Service would serve as a deathblow to the economic health of hundreds of small communities across the nation. Eliminating this important program is the wrong thing to do, and now is the worst time to do it.”
On April 7, 2011, the Senate requested the House meet in a conference to resolve the differences between the House- and Senate-passed long-term FAA reauthorization bills. More than 100 days later, the House has taken no action to agree to a conference. Despite claims by Committee Chairman Mica that such differences could be resolved “in 20 minutes,” the House Republican leadership is holding the negotiations hostage and has been unwilling to negotiate the differences between the bills in an open and transparent process.
“The House Republicans have recklessly blown up FAA reauthorization negotiations, while needlessly putting Americans out of work,” said Nick Rahall (D-WV-03). “They have not appointed conferees, they have not done the basic work to resolve the current impasse, and they seem to have no real plan to resolve it going forward other than continuing to inflict pain on working families until they get their way.”
WWJOD (What Would Jim Oberstar Do) is not germane …
the question is WWCCD (What Will Chip Cravaack Do) …
NOW is not the time for an August Recess …
NOW is the time to Resolve this impasse.
Minnesota workers should not be held as hostages as a bargaining chip played by Mr. Cravaack.