AMENDING TITLE 49, UNITED STATES CODE
Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, today, I take to the floor to reluctantly cast my vote against H.R. 5449. Although I deeply admire the hard work performed by our Nation's air traffic controllers and support their efforts to negotiate a fair contract, I cannot support this legislation. I believe that this bill goes too far and needlessly picks a winner and a loser between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Association of Air Traffic Controllers, NATCA. In addition, this bill will completely remove congressional oversight from this process.
No workers, regardless of their profession, should be forced to accept a contract without having a chance to negotiate the terms. I believe the existing negotiating framework between the FAA and the air traffic controllers is broken and needs to be fixed. That is why I not only cosponsored H.R. 4755, the Federal Aviation Administration Fair Labor Management Dispute Resolution Act, but sent a letter to the Speaker asking for a floor vote on this bill.
H.R. 4755 would have prevented the FAA from instituting one-sided, unilateral contract terms on the labor union. If negotiations were to stall, Congress would have 60 days to review the FAA's last proposal and then decide whether or not more negotiations were necessary. The bill would have prevented air traffic controllers from having to accept a contract they clearly rejected, while at the same time ensuring that negotiations did not remain deadlocked. I supported H.R. 4755 then and I support it now. Unfortunately, this is not the bill that has been brought to the floor today.
H.R. 5449 goes too far and needlessly puts Congress in the position of picking a winner and a loser in this debate. While I agree that the current process is flawed, the role of Congress is to reform the system, not to circumvent it. This bill would further hinder negotiations, prevent real progress from being made, and remove Congress from the process. For these reasons, I cannot support this bill.