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Mica Hearing "as Silly as Snowing in Florida" - (11/3/2003)

WASHINGTON – National Air Traffic Controllers Association President John Carr today rejected testifying at House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman John Mica’s planned hearing this week to explore turning over the air traffic control system to the military, calling the hearing, in a takeoff of the chairman’s own words, “as silly as snowing in Florida.”

“Instead of wasting our time with ‘fertile’ imaginations we have decided to concentrate on the reality of a badly flawed Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill,” Carr stated. “We would rather not meddle with the chairman’s misguided military musings.”

The chairman called for the hearing several weeks ago to explore his own idea of shifting command of the air traffic control workforce to the Department of Defense. He told reporters he was doing so to preserve the air traffic control system’s inherently governmental function but stop controllers from being unionized. Carr said he views that comment as all the evidence one needs to understand the chairman’s true agenda these days.

“NATCA is more than willing to testify when the subject matter is serious,” Carr said. “But the list of serious subjects will never include swapping towers for votes, holding kangaroo conference committees and further burdening our nation’s military.” Carr went on, “This hearing is clearly a partisan stunt designed to threaten, intimidate and silence opposition. No one we have talked to in Washington views this hearing as anything but a bad joke.”

“What caught my attention is the timing of this hearing,” Carr concluded. “Our military is deployed in critical operations around the world and a subcommittee chairman now wants to use the military as a pawn in this political game-playing. The worst part is the admission that this hearing has nothing to do with our brave men and women in uniform and everything to do with forcing a bad bill to conclusion. Our military deserves better and so does the American flying public.”

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