McKinley Votes Against EAS Bill

U.S. Rep. David McKinley broke with fellow House Republicans on Friday in voting against legislation to reauthorize funding for the Federal Aviation Administration.

McKinley, of West Virginia, was one of only 11 Republicans to vote against House Resolution 658, which passed the House by a vote of 223-196. U.S. Reps. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Bob Gibbs and Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, all voted in favor.

McKinley noted he voted against the bill because under the legislation Essential Air Services funding is set to be entirely phased out over the next few years.

The EAS program provides millions of dollars for commercial flights to and from airports in the Morgantown, Clarksburg and Parkersburg areas, according to McKinley. Service at the Ohio County Airport is not affected by the program cuts.

“Without funding for our (northern West Virginia) airports in this bill, I could not in good conscience vote for it,” he said. “West Virginia and its employers need and deserve adequate transportation infrastructure; convenient access to air travel is essential to achieving economic growth.

“There are some issues that are too important for party politics, and jobs are one of them. These airports create thousands of direct and indirect jobs in northern West Virginia, and they would not exist without this program,” he added. “To be sure, cutting spending is necessary to bring down the deficit and create certainty for job providers – but in the case of our local airports, they are part of what provides certainty for area businesses.”

McKinley, though, acknowledged the EAS program needs reform.

“So let’s eliminate what’s wasteful – but keep what works,” he said. “I will continue to fight for EAS funding as the House and Senate enter negotiations on a final bill and am confident we will prevail.”

Jamie Corley, a spokeswoman for Capito, said Capito voted in favor of the bill with the knowledge the EAS funding issue likely will be addressed when the bill comes before a conference committee.

“This is not the end for EAS,” Corley said.

Capito added that the reauthorization bill “is the result of hard work and a commitment to finding ways to use our resources more efficiently and effectively.”

“This bill achieves many of the goals set forth by the committee – including streamlining programs, reducing waste and improving aviation safety,” she said. “One of the highlights of the bill is that it includes an upgrade to the nation’s air traffic control system, which lags far behind those in other countries in terms of technological advancement.”

Gibbs said he supported the bill because the four-year authorization is necessary to provide increased safety, efficiency and certainty necessary for planning and achieving major infrastructure improvements and repairs.

“H.R. 658 is common-sense legislation that achieves more with less by streamlining FAA programs and consolidating old, obsolete and duplicative FAA facilities,” Gibbs said. “Furthermore, the bill provides for the implementation of NextGen technology, which will transition the current ground-based radar system to a safer, more fuel-efficient satellite-based system.

But perhaps most importantly, this bill contains no earmarks, no tax increases and no increases in Passenger Facility Charges.

“This bill makes real and significant cuts in spending, returning to fiscal year 2008 levels and saving taxpayers approximately $4 billion,” he continued. “Furthermore, the bill actually reduces spending by $495 million more than the spending levels approved in H.R. 1 earlier this year.”

Jessica Towhey, spokeswoman for Johnson, said Johnson voted for the legislation because it provides for programs that support important air operations and the federal air traffic control system for the next three years.