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Statement from NATCA President John Carr on Fixing the FAA Reauthorization Conference Report - (10/29/2003)

Contact: Doug Church, 202.220.9802, (cell) 301.346.8245

“I commend the House of Representative for their bravery in taking the extraordinary move of sending the very badly flawed conference report back to conference. We can only hope that this time the full conference committee will meet and report back a bill that truly upholds the will of Congress and the American people. It would be a slap in the face to the Congressional process and the public if another dirty deal is cut in the dead of night by a handful of members who seem more concerned about political ideology than safety. There should be no more game playing, no more trading towers for votes, no more back room negotiations. The time has come to LISTEN to the will of Congress, our nation’s leading consumer groups - Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America and Public Citizen - , the men and women who fly our planes, who service the aircraft, and, yes the flying public, and find a sensible compromise.

“LET ME BE CLEAR, the reported plan to simply strip the privatization of 69 towers language from the bill may seem like an easy fix, but it is NOT. The dirty little secret is that there is language in the bill, section 105, which will specifically allow for the privatization of air traffic control. You probably won’t hear about that from the authors of this plan, but members and the public need to know. Don’t be fooled by this early Halloween trick. There is no treat for the flying public in this so-called fix.

“Since August, tens of thousands of Americans have called their members asking that air traffic control not be sold to the lowest bidder. The American people are smart. They will understand what happened if a back-room deal is cut that jeopardizes safety and they will hold those members accountable. It’s time to stop holding critical airport improvement programs hostage and placing the blame on those who are fighting to maintain safety.

“Safety should not be a Democratic or a Republican issue. Last June, both the House and the Senate overwhelmingly voted to specifically prohibit privatization. The task now is to find a sensible compromise that upholds the will of both the House and the Senate. Let’s fix this report and make sure that our nation’s skies remain the safest in the world.”

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