In West Virginia, we are proud of our beautiful mountains and scenic winding drives. But sometimes taking a flight to or from one of our community airports is the best way to connect business and tourists to our great state. Our airports serve as economic hubs by connecting our communities and citizens to the global economy and providing countless opportunities for commerce.
As Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, I worked hard over several years to provide the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with a robust reauthorization that promises a stable foundation for the safety and efficiency of the U.S. aviation system -- including our vital airports here at home. When we passed that legislation in 2012, we made flights safer, and launched the modernization of our entire air traffic control system -- all while creating thousands of American jobs.
In the process, I secured economic opportunities for West Virginia. Airports in Morgantown, Clarksburg, Parkersburg, and Beckley will continue to get funding for the Essential Air Service (EAS) program so our rural airports can provide reasonable and reliable flights for people in their areas.
This represented a long-awaited assurance for our aviation industry. For four years and through far too many short-term fixes, politics won out in Congress -- at one point causing 4,000 hard-working FAA employees to temporarily lose their jobs while halting hundreds of critical airport safety and air traffic control projects.
But I refused to give up on finding consensus to put people back to work and increase stability for the FAA. Once everyone came back to the negotiating table, we were able to find common ground -- and reach a huge win for passenger safety and economic development.
Maintaining the safety of passengers and crew will continue to be a major priority of mine in the 113th Congress. And as the FAA implements crucial provisions that will help communities and consumers, I will continue to working make sure West Virginia benefits from a growing aviation industry.