U.S. Congressman Jerry Costello (D-IL), Ranking Democrat on the House Aviation Subcommittee, today supported the conference report for H.R. 658, the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act, which was passed by the full House of Representatives. Costello co-authored many provisions in the bill as Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee from 2007-2010, passing two FAA reauthorization bills in the House during that time, but made it clear in his floor statement that changes made to the Railway Labor Act should not be included in the legislation:
"I want to state at the outset of my remarks that I am deeply disappointed in the change to the Railway Labor Act that was added to the conference report during final negotiations on the National Mediation Board provision between Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Reid. The NMB language should have been dropped altogether! Congress should not be amending the Railway Labor Act in this bill....I believe it is necessary to move forward and enact a multi-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. But I want to be clear -- if the Railway Labor Act change proves to have a negative effect on the right to organize we must revisit the issue," said Costello.
Among the major provisions in the bill:
Establishes funding levels for operations and programs of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Creates a process for resolving collective-bargaining impasses between the FAA and its workforce. The bill sets up a process for mediation and binding arbitration between the FAA and the collective-bargaining representatives of employees. The process will ensure that disputes are resolved fairly and efficiently without any disruption to the aviation system.
Tightens the conditions under which maintenance work on U.S. commercial airliners may be performed by outside contractors not directly regulated by the FAA.
Ensures that the number of aviation safety inspectors is adequate to protect the safety of the flying public.
Creates structure and accountability by requiring appointment of a Chief NextGen Officer, who will serve as the primary point of accountability for NextGen implementation at the FAA. NextGen is the transition from a radar-based air transportation system to a satellite-based system, which will improve efficiency.
"This is the culmination of over five years of work on this legislation," said Costello. "While it is not perfect, it is a very good framework for civil aviation in our country and will provide stability for the aviation industry and promote economic development and job creation. I want to thank Chairman Mica, Chairman Petri, Ranking Member Rahall, and staff on both sides of the aisle for their commitment and hard work to get this bill across the finish line."