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Public Statements

Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. RAHALL. I thank the gentleman from Arizona.

I rise in support of H.R. 1765.

As the flight delays mounted this week due to the furlough and as many Republicans claim that the FAA had the flexibility to avoid this disruption and that politics were at play, gee, that's kind of like calling the kettle black.

Just last month, in March, many of these same Members recognized the across-the-board nature of the sequester when a provision was included in the transportation bill to avoid the furlough of meat inspectors who would otherwise have been furloughed. Nothing has changed in the sequester law since last month. My good friend, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, is an honorable man, and I take issue with those who have alleged that he is playing politics with the sequester.

Now, to those who have expressed concern over the piecemeal approach in addressing the chilling effects of the sequester, I share your concerns. I share the concerns of others who are being burdened by the sequester, such as a child thrown out of the Head Start or seniors depending on Meals on Wheels.

But let me be clear: the rash of delays that we witnessed this week as the sequester began to take effect is not just an inconvenience to business or vacation travelers; we are talking about emergency medical services that transport patients with time-sensitive medical emergencies.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 1765, which I view as an emergency measure to address the effect of the sequester on the integrity of our aviation transportation system.

As the flight delays mounted this week due to the furlough of about 1,500 air traffic controllers a day--40% of the workforce--many Republicans claimed that the FAA had the flexibility to avoid this disruption and that politics were at play.

That is like calling the kettle black.

Just last month, in March, many of these same Members recognized the across-the-board nature of the sequester when a provision was included in the appropriations bill to avoid the furlough of meat inspectors who would otherwise have been furloughed.

Nothing has changed in the sequester law since last month. My good friend, the Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, is an honorable man. I take issue with those who have alleged that he is playing politics with the sequester.

Neither he nor the Administrator of the FAA are guilty of nothing more, and nothing less, the hand that Congress forced on them.

Now, to those on my side of the aisle, who have expressed concerns over a piecemeal approach to addressing the chilling effects of the sequester, I share your concerns.

I share your concerns for others who are being burdened by the sequester, such as the child thrown out of Head Start or seniors depending on Wheels on Meals.

But let me be clear. The rash of flight delays we have witnessed this week as the sequester began to take effect is not just an inconvenience to business or vacation travelers.

There is an even more serious concern here, and while it is one that has not manifested yet, if the present situation continues unabated it could potentially have lethal results.

Aircraft provide emergency medical services that transport patients with time-sensitive medical emergencies, organs, blood products and pediatric patients.

Time-sensitive drugs and emergency aid cannot afford to be delayed because of the air traffic control system. These medical air services need to be able to operate without delay 24 hours a day and 385 days a year.

I urge support of the pending measure.

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