John Mica, admitting the FAA shutdown was over the effort to pass his repeal of the NMB rules
The House added the EAS policy riders as a way to extract concessions on the NMB provisions, according to Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who also spoke at the conference.
“It’s just a tool to try to motivate some action to get this resolved,” Mica says, adding that the NMB issue is being moved “at the highest leadership levels of the House and Senate and beyond my ability to resolve.”
Aviation Week, July 19, 2011
But Mica overreached. Letting his anti-labor ideology take over, he tried to use the FAA bill to overturn a decision by the National Mediation Board to rescind an old rule that had made it unusually difficult for airline workers to organize. Delta Air Lines furiously lobbied Congress to intervene.
Mica knew Senate Democrats would resist, so he tried to create a bargaining chit: He drafted plans to cut funds for small airports in the home states of Reid (Nev.) and Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.), chairman of the Senate transportation panel.
The Floridian publicly admitted his ruse. “It’s just a tool to try to motivate some action” on the labor rule, he told a group of airport executives last month, according to Aviation Daily. “I didn’t plan it to be this national issue,” he told me.
Washington Post, August 4, 2011
Congressional passage of 20 previous short-term extensions was routine. If enacted, the House bill would be the 21st extension. Senators introduced their own short-term extension bill on Wednesday without the airline subsidies provision, but it was unclear if they would have time under Senate rules to pass it before Friday night.
Democrats say they won't let a bill pass the Senate with the subsidies provision, which they described as a symbolic gesture aimed at trying to force them to negotiate with the House on the labor issue.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has insisted the labor provision be dropped. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, acknowledged that he included the airline service subsidies provision in part to prod the Senate to cut a deal.
"We're trying to do something to motivate them," Mica told reporters.
AP, July 21, 2011
Mica acknowledged that he inserted the airport language into the extension bill partly as a means to “send the Senate a message that we want this finally resolved.”
The long-term funding bill approved by the Senate in February included a provision ending subsidized air service for 10 of the 13 airports that would be affected by the provision in the House extension bill. Mica said he “tweaked” that language to include three more airports — in Nevada, Montana and New Mexico — because their subsidies amount to more than $1,000 per ticket.
The blame for the delay belongs to Reid, who has been unwilling to negotiate on the labor issue, Mica said.
“We can resolve this in a one-hour conference,” he said. “The time to stop messing around is now.”
House Transportation Committee chairman John Mica, R-Fla., complained last week, when introducing the House measure, that the Democratic Senate's refusal to accept a House Republican plan to reverse a National Mediation Board decision that made it easier for aviation workers to form unions was the reason for failing to pass a new, multiyear bill in over seven years. He called it "political posturing and payoffs to the labor movement."
The Commercial Appeal, July 20, 2011
Earlier this month, John Mica, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told an aviation conference that adding the airport subsidy provision to the temporary bill to keep the F.A.A. running is “just a tool” to force the Senate to give in on the union issue.
New York Times, July 27, 2011