FAA Playing Politics With EAA's AirVenture
EAA's AirVenture brings over 500,000 people from over 70 countries and 10,000 planes to Oshkosh each year for the world's largest general aviation event, making Wittman Regional Airport the busiest airport in the world for that week. But after 60 years, the FAA recently informed EAA that it would no longer fund the cost of the air traffic control for the event and that these costs would have to be reimbursed.
This goes beyond the agency's cost-cutting requirements under sequestration (especially given legislation that passed Congress and became law to allow FAA flexibility to avoid cuts in air traffic control impacting safety) and is an abdication of its basic responsibilities. I sent a letter to FAA's Administrator, Michael Huerta, urging him to reconsider the decision. Congress may have to look into the larger issue of whether it is appropriate for FAA to charge for providing air traffic control services at high volume events.
AirVenture is a unique event known around the world, and I will continue to urge FAA to fulfill its basic responsibility of ensuring safety by supplying air traffic controllers at Oshkosh this summer. Read more from the Oshkosh Northwestern and look out for my upcoming op-ed in Sunday's Northwestern.
District Work Period Summary
From May 27 through June 1, I held a series of town meetings throughout the 6th District and had the opportunity to attend events in several towns and communities. Town meetings are always a great way for me to directly communicate with the people I represent. During this round I traveled to Lodi, Westfield, the Town of Dakota, Beaver Dam, Pardeeville, Ripon, Neenah, Berlin, Belgium, Two Rivers, Sheboygan, and Mequon hearing from constituents about issues that ranged from immigration reform to gun control to the federal budget. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend, and look out for another round of town meetings later this summer.
On May 29, I joined the Columbus Rotary Club for lunch and was able to speak to the group for a few minutes. On May 30, I joined Governor Scott Walker, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, and U.S. Representative Reid Ribble at the Gulfstream facility in Appleton for a Wisconsin General Aviation Jobs Rally. Wisconsin is second amongst all the states in terms of percentage of workforce engaged in manufacturing--and aviation is an important part of that. General aviation contributes more than $3.5 billion to Wisconsin's economy each year and supports more than 1,100 jobs in the state.
On May 31, I met with Port Washington Mayor Tom Mlada and toured the breakwater facility that requires maintenance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Later in the day, I joined local Sheboygan county officials in dedicating the rails-to-trails project in the City of Sheboygan. Local trail projects benefit communities across the country and the Sheboygan trail is a great example of an outstanding federal-state-local partnership.
Upcoming in Congress
The House of Representatives started its annual appropriations process this week to provide funding for all government operations. Each department, agency, and program is funded through one of twelve funding bills. The first two passed the House this past week, and others will be considered throughout the summer. Over the past two years, the House of Representatives has been successful in cutting hundreds of billions of dollars and dozens of unnecessary or duplicative government programs, and I will continue to look for avenues to save taxpayer dollars.
The House is also set to consider the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) next week, which sets military policy and priorities for the coming fiscal year, and a farm bill, which the House Agriculture Committee has been working on and may be considered in the next few weeks in the House. The House will also continue to perform its oversight role in investigating issues such as the IRS targeting of conservative groups for extra scrutiny, last year's attack on our consulate in Benghazi, and the Justice Department's surveillance of journalists. It is critical that wrongdoers are held accountable and that the American people have the most truthful and accurate information.
In Case You Missed It
Here is some information on some of the legislation I recently introduced:
I recently joined U.S. Representative Ron Kind (D-WI) in introducing the Assisting Family Farmers through Insurance Reform Measures (AFFIRM) Act, that would implement much-needed reforms to the federal crop insurance program. Read my release here and the Associated Press article here.
As I have done in the past, I introduced legislation to recognize WWII veteran James 'Maggie' Megellas, a Fond du Lac native, with the Medal of Honor for his heroism at the Battle of the Bulge.
In order to prepare teachers and prinicipals more effectively, I introduced the Growing Education Achievement Training Academies for Teachers and Principals Act, or GREAT Teachers and Principals Act, with my colleague Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO).
On June 3, I introduced the Assessment Accuracy and Improvement Act, which would allow states to fulfill federal education testing requirements using adaptive testing which more accurately assesses a student's grade level performance.