U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today welcomed the Senate's defeat, 61 to 38, of an amendment by U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, to eliminate the nation's Essential Air Service (EAS) program. Forty four communities across Alaska receive EAS subsidies. In a Senate floor speech earlier this week, Murkowski said elimination of the air service would be an "economic and transportation disaster" for Alaska, arguing that, unlike the rest of the nation, most of Alaska's EAS communities are not connected to a road system. McCain sought to amend the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, which the Senate is debating and could pass later today.
"I am pleased that my colleagues in the Senate voted down the McCain amendment and have elected to preserve this extremely vital program," Murkowski said. "The Essential Air Service program provides dozens of Alaskan communities with a lifeline to meet their emergency medical, subsistence and shipping needs. While I firmly believe that Congress needs to take a hard look at where we can cut spending to reduce the nation's deficit, eliminating Essential Air Service would be a calamity for rural Alaska."