Chairman Tom Latham Floor Statement on H.R. 1765, Providing Transfer Authority to the FAA

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Washington, April 26, 2013 -

Mr. Chairman, I come today with H.R. 1765, a bill to provide up to $253 million from the Airport Improvement Program – or ANY other account in the FAA – to the Operations Account.  The purpose of this transfer authority is to restore reliable and safe service in the commercial air traffic system by reducing or eliminating employee furlough days.

I think we all agree the FAA and the administration has handled the sequester poorly.  The FAA has negotiated in bad faith with the FAA employees, the airlines, the flying public and the Congress.  And the Administration has played shameful politics with sequestration at the cost to hardworking American families. As I have often said - this is simply no way to run a government. 

But the Congress is stepping in to correct the problems created by the Administration’s inaction. We are taking this step because of the gross mismanagement of this important function for the safety of all Americans who fly, and on behalf of the commerce that depends on a reliable air system. 

We are taking this action to end the Administration's political games that threaten passenger rights and safety.

The fact that we are here today, trying to solve this problem, is a result of the sequester.  I remind you that the President brought sequester to the table.  And in an effort to avoid the arbitrary $1.2 trillion of cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act, twice the majority of members in the House have passed commonsense legislation that would have replaced sequestration with targeted spending cuts of an equal dollar amount.

Unfortunately, the Senate never considered either of these bills — and thus sequestration was triggered.

Further, this situation goes to show that we need to return to regular order and consider appropriations bills in their entirety and not rely on continuing resolutions to fund the government. 

Under a CR, there’s no way for us to prioritize cuts or protect programs related to the safety of the American public. It also goes to show that we must have a long term, comprehensive solution to our budget challenges – one that solves the sequester, and that provides sustainability and stability in the federal budget. 

I put the administration, the Secretary, and the agency on alert – we are watching.  We have questions, and we want answers about how you are using these funds, and how you are managing the rest of your department.  Like I said at the FAA hearing on Wednesday, the safety of our air space cannot be subject to political posturing.

Thank you, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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