Recent Press Releases

Aug 04 2011

Johnson Asks Senate, House Leaders to Bring Congress Back to Pass FAA Bill

Washington, DC—U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) today called on the bipartisan leadership of the Senate and House to bring Congress back from their scheduled district work period to pass an extension of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bill.  Although the FAA bill had been extended on a short-term basis 20 times in recent years, partisan politics prevented passage of an extension before Congress adjourned earlier this week.  

“The failure of Congress to extend this bill despite having done so twenty times in recent years is exactly what’s wrong with Washington. Every day Congress fails to extend this bill, we lose $30 million in funding dedicated to improving our airports, and thousands of employees across the nation are left out of work,” said Johnson.

“I’m urging the leaders of the Senate and House to do what it takes to reach an agreement on this. A well-functioning aviation system is good for South Dakota and travelers across the nation, especially during the summer travel season.  It’s time for Congress to put partisanship aside and finally extend this vital legislation,” concluded Johnson.

Johnson highlighted the uncertainty facing airport managers and community leaders across the state regarding the status of ongoing and future improvement projects. Given South Dakota’s short construction season, a delay in progress could significantly impact these projects.  

A copy of the letter is included below:

                                                                 August 4, 2011


The Honorable Harry Reid

Majority Leader

United States Senate

U.S. Capitol, S-221

Washington, DC 20510


The Honorable Mitch McConnell

Minority Leader

United States Senate

U.S. Capitol, S-230

Washington, DC 20510


The Honorable John Boehner


United States House of Representatives

U.S. Capitol, H-232

Washington, DC 20515


The Honorable Nancy Pelosi

Democratic Leader

United States House of Representatives

U.S. Capitol, H-204

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Majority Leader Reid, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker Boehner and Democratic Leader Pelosi:

Though many of our colleagues have returned to their home states and districts, I urge you to work together now to resolve the ongoing impasse over extending the authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  Our aviation system is too important to the economies of all of our states—urban and rural alike—to allow the issue to remain unresolved.   

I have heard from airport managers and community leaders in my state about the uncertainty they now face with ongoing and future capital improvement projects.  We have a very short construction season in South Dakota, and now is not the time to put off important construction work.  In Rapid City, a major renovation project depends upon the Airport Improvement Program funding generated from the ticket taxes and fees the FAA collects.  In Aberdeen, construction plans for a taxiway have already been slowed by our inability to pass a long-term authorization and the current impasse threatens to push plans back even further.   In Sioux Falls, an $8 million runway project could be delayed by a year if we do not extend the Airport Improvement Program soon.  Moreover, if we continue to allow the nearly $30 million per day in lost revenue, we are only hurting our future ability to maintain and improve our airports and other infrastructure.

While I believe the best approach is a clean extension of the FAA authorization, I commend Senators Rockefeller and Hutchison for bringing to the table a bipartisan compromise.  Their proposal offers tough but responsible reforms to the Essential Air Service Program that was targeted in the House-passed extension.  Essential Air Service is extremely important to South Dakota, and it should not be used as a political pawn. 

With the House and Senate each in pro-forma session throughout the August District Work Period, nothing prevents us from ending this shutdown.  We must arrive at a solution that puts the thousands of FAA employees and construction workers back on the job and restores our ability to invest in our transportation infrastructure.  Congress has a responsibility to resolve this issue, and I stand ready to work with you.





                                                                 Tim Johnson

                                                                 United States Senate