Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, issued the following statement today after voting no on the bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Larsen is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee which has jurisdiction over the FAA.
"I have long sought a serious and comprehensive FAA reauthorization bill that invests in our economy, builds our infrastructure and creates jobs," Larsen said. "There is a lot in this bill I support, and I would have loved to have voted yes. But the bill also includes attacks on organized labor that have no place in this legislation. For that reason I had no choice but to oppose this bill.
"The bill makes necessary investments in aviation infrastructure, which will help airports build and expand capacity, creating jobs. Airports are centers of business activity and these investments will generate jobs by boosting the economy. In Northwest Washington, Paine Field, Bellingham International Airport and Arlington airport have all benefited from these FAA dollars.
"The FAA will continue developing the Next Generation Air Transportation System to increase the safety, efficiency and reliability of our air transport system. This will help airlines save on fuel, lowering costs for consumers, and improve on-time performance.
"The bill improves passenger protections by requiring airlines to have contingency plans for passengers stuck on airplanes during long delays. Now airlines will be required to allow passengers to leave the planes during lengthy delays and planes will be required to have food, water and medical supplies for passengers in these situations.
"Democratic negotiators were able to remove one egregious anti-union provision that would have made it nearly impossible for employees at airlines and railroads to organize. But Republicans implemented a new 50 percent requirement to call for a union election that would drastically rewrite a statute that has been in place for more than 75 years. The implications of these changes are far-reaching. Airline and railroad workers who have worked for decades ensuring fairness and safety in their work environments would suddenly be subject to significant losses. Changes as drastic as these need to be given a full debate in Congress, not negotiated privately and quietly attached to this bill.
"It is unfortunate that in the end I was not able to support this legislation. I know it will do a lot of good for Northwest Washington and across the nation. But I cannot support those provisions which undermine workers' rights to organize and collectively bargain."