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NATCA Calls Rep. Mica's Towers-for-Votes Trade Proposal “a Total Outrage” - (10/16/2003)

WASHINGTON – National Air Traffic Controllers Association President John Carr today blasted a plan by House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., to trade towers for votes on the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, calling the effort “a total outrage and an affront to the American flying public.”

“Chairman Mica wants to cherry-pick our National Airspace System to garner votes,” Carr said. “He wants to take federal air traffic control towers off the chopping block for privatization in exchange for votes from those respective Republican members of Congress to pass privatization legislation that an overwhelming majority of his Congressional colleagues and the American public opposes. It’s outrageous and it’s bad public policy.”

Continued Carr: “The safety of the aviation system should never have to take a backseat to political gamesmanship. The skin of this onion has finally been peeled back. Now we can all see what Mica’s proposal is all about – it’s not about the safety of the system, it's not about efficiency and it’s not about cost. It’s about dirty politics and a dangerous political ideology. What Chairman Mica’s proposal says is that our country is okay with a two-class system of safety in the skies. If you are fortunate enough to live in a first class Republican district, you are safe to fly. But if you live in a second class Democratic district, all bets are off.”

Mica held a hearing just last month in which he argued that all towers are safe, including those that are privately run in this country. Carr said that theory is now blown apart by Mica’s proposal. “Chairman Mica wants to create a two-tiered system of air safety in this country to get votes. Clearly there is concern among his Republican colleagues about the safety of their hometown towers if they are privatized.”

“The political game playing which our nation has witnessed on this serious issue of safety has got to stop. Aviation safety is neither a Republican nor Democratic issue and yet the political process has been undermined time and time again. Our Congress should not be forced to compromise on safety. Let’s stop the game playing and fix the conference report so the will of the Congress and the public is served."

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