BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. YOUNG of Alaska. I want to thank Chairman Latham for his leadership on this bill. It's difficult times.
This is a very simple amendment. In 1978, when Congress deregulated the airline industry, it also provided a means to protect rural communities. The Essential Air Service program ensures the continuation of service to communities that would have lost all air service through deregulation. While this is a vital program, I respect the efforts of the chairman to find cost savings.
The bill excludes communities from participating in the program if they receive a per-passenger subsidy of greater than $500. Current law excludes communities if they receive over $1,000 per passenger, with the exception of communities in Alaska and Hawaii. This recognizes that communities in Alaska and Hawaii are completely dependent on air travel.
Alaska has limited road infrastructure. Eighty-two percent of Alaskan communities do not have a road system. In many of these communities, everything has to come in by air. My amendment clarifies that the proposed reforms will not alter the longstanding recognition of the realities in Alaska and Hawaii--no roads, no alternatives, complete dependence on aviation.
My amendment has no score per CBO and does not impact funding levels of the program. My amendment provides a no-cost solution to ensure the most remote areas of our Nation are not excluded from participating in this program. I'd just like to remind my colleagues if you take all the land east of the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Ocean, from Maine to Florida, that's Alaska. And you think about it, in that area, there's 253 Congressmen and 52 Senators. That's really different. Hawaii has the same problem--not quite as large, but we have only one way to communicate, and that's with air service.
I urge the passage of this amendment. It is a very simple amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT