(Senate - August 02, 2011)

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[Pages S5280-S5281]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. REID. Mr. President, we have tried for days now to change what 
the Republicans in the House have tried to do to the American people. 
In fact, it appears they are going to be able to do it. We have the 
extension of the Federal Aviation Administration legislation that is 
being held up. We wanted a temporary extension for the next few weeks. 
We have already extended it more than 20 times. We thought we should do 
it again. We have done that. That has been routine until we get some of 
the big issues worked out. But Republicans wanted to increase the ante 
a little bit this time with essential air service. In Pennsylvania, 
some of the rural areas--the Presiding Officer is from Pennsylvania; of 
course, Nevada has a lot of rural areas, and other States. Even the 
heavily populated State of New York has essential air service. 
Essential air service was set up a long time ago to allow 
underpopulated areas to be able to be in touch with the rest of the 
  The Republicans have tried to eliminate essential air service. That 
is the ransom we are asking now for an extension of the FAA bill. I am 
not going to ask consent today; we have asked it many times. But I want 
the Record to be spread with how unreasonable it is, what the 
Republicans have done. As a result of their activities, the House 
Republicans, we have 80,000 people who will not be working now--80,000 
people, more than 70,000 construction workers and thousands of people 
who are employees of the Federal Aviation Administration.
  For example, in Nevada we have an air traffic control tower, a new 
one that needs to be built. It is going to be big, expensive, and 
necessary. The work has stopped. They worked there for less than a 
month. The work has stopped. The construction work has stopped.
  I talked to the Senator from California, Senator Boxer, today. In 
Palm Springs they have one that is essential, is badly needed. Work has 
stopped on that.
  Construction projects all over America are held up at our airports. 
It is so very unreasonable what they have done. I appreciate Kay Bailey 
Hutchison, the Republican Senator from Texas, who has worked with the 
chairman of the committee, Jay Rockefeller, to try to work past this. 
She agrees with Senator Rockefeller it is unreasonable that they have 
done this.
  What I want to do is read a column out of the New York Times of July 
29. The writer introduces his column by saying:

       The facts of the crisis over the debt ceiling aren't 
     complicated. Republicans have, in effect, taken America 
     hostage, threatening to undermine the economy and disrupt the 
     essential business of government unless they get policy 
     concessions they would never have been able to enact through 

  That is where we are with the FAA problem. He goes on to say:

       As I said, it's not complicated. Yet many people in the 
     news media apparently can't bring themselves to acknowledge 
     this simple reality. News reports portray the parties as 
     equally intransigent; pundits fantasize about some kind of 
     ``centrist'' uprising, as if the problem was too much 
     partisanship on both sides. Some of us have long complained 
     about the cult of ``balance,'' the insistence on portraying 
     both parties as equally wrong and equally at fault on any 
     issue, never mind the facts. I joked long ago that if one 
     party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would 
     read ``Views Differ on Shape of Planet.'' But would that cult 
     still rule in a situation as stark as the one we now face, in 
     which one party is clearly engaged in blackmail?

  He went on to say more and then he said:

       The answer, it turns out, is yes. And this is no laughing 
     matter: The cult of balance has played an important role in 
     bringing us to the edge of disaster. For when reporting on 
     political disputes always implies that both sides are to 
     blame, there is no penalty for extremism. Voters won't punish 
     you for outrageous behavior if all they ever hear is that 
     both sides are at fault.

  Mr. President, I wish the press would report this outrageous conduct 
on the part of the House Republicans, in effect closing down work for 
80,000 people in America because of their trying to eliminate essential 
air service.
  The issue is certainly more than that. We know it is a labor issue. 
We have one airline that is terribly anti-union and they are the ones 
behind all this. They are using the essential air service as a guise to 
get what they want.
  I am not going to ask consent, but I want the American people to know 
why essential air service is being attacked

[[Page S5281]]

and why 80,000 people are basically today not going to be able to go to 
work tomorrow.