…or, what happened to the FAA?
On Friday, Congress failed to pass yet another extension of the FAA’s authorization. Beginning in 2007, Congress could not agree on the terms of an FAA reauthorization bill, and this stalemate has continued for the past four years. In the interim, Congress has passed 21 extentions of the prior authorization, but, the last extension expired Friday.
There will be no lay-offs for air traffic controllers, but, the rest of the employees will be getting furlough notices beginning today.
What went wrong, you ask?
The root cause of the problem is how the FAA spends your money. We have numerous airports throughout the country that handle very few passengers a day. Because of the lack of traffic, it is very expensive for airlines to service these airports, when, as an example, no more than 20 passengers a day are either arriving or departing.
So, the FAA started a program years ago that essentially subsidized the cost of air fare to and from these airports. It was claimed that if the air fare wasn’t subsidized, no airlines would service the airport. Since 2007 many members of Congress (enough to block a vote on reauthorization) have insisted that this subsidy program be scaled back, or even eliminated.
This year, Congressman John Mica (R. Fl.) inserted a provision in the FAA authorization bill that would limit subsidies to $1000 a ticket. But, a few “influential” members of Congress have blocked any such cutback, because, you guessed it, it would cost them, and their constituants, more money to fly.
Here’s a sampling of those in the Senate that believe firmly that you should defray the cost of someone else’s air travel.
[T]he provision affected small airports in some states with very powerful Democrats: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) among others. [emphasis supplied]
Here is what Congressman Mica had to say,
I’m tired of playing games…We’re paying $3,700 to subsidize one plane ticket in one Senator’s district – that’s not right. [emphasis supplied]
Guess what airport that subsidy applies to?
That would be the airport in Ely, Nevada…home state of Senator Harry Reid (D. Nv.).