2015-06-04: Congressional Floor Speeches by Arizona Reps. Ruben Gallego and David Schweikert

Two of the best statements yet made by Congressional Representatives, about FAA’s NextGen failures in Phoenix, are in this video. Speaking are the Chair, Representative Ruben Gallego (D), and Representative David Schweikert (R). A transcript follows.

Chairman: The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Arizona.

Rep. Ruben Gallego:

Mr. Chairman, I rise to offer an amendment that would prevent the FAA from moving forward with plans to redesign the Phoenix Metroplex airspace. Let me explain why, and why it’s important to my city.

Imagine living in a quiet neighborhood and then waking up one morning to discover dozens of planes suddenly have been roaring over your head.

Next, imagine the frustration of running a business, raising a family, or even trying to get a good night’s sleep when your windows are constantly rattling, because of the noise of passing aircraft.

Finally, imagine that all of this discomfort was both needless and avoidable; that it was caused by out-of-touch bureaucrats who rerouted major flight paths over your community without bothering to consult the people that live there.

Unfortunately, for thousands of Phoenix residents, this is not a hypothetical scenario.

In September of last year, the FAA instituted new flight patterns for the aircraft departing from Sky Harbor Airport, without any notice for anybody, without any notice to our neighbors. For too many members of my community, these changes have meant more noise and a lower quality of life. Disturbingly, the FAA altered these flight paths without seeking local input, failing to consult with the community members or civic leaders in the Phoenix area.

Not only that, but the FAA also failed to provide a report that was mandated by the previous Congress, on last year’s FAA bill, about what they plan to do and change with the patterns, and is now more than two months overdue, with no response yet from the FAA.

Mr. Chairman, this isn’t how our government is supposed to run, and this is not how the FAA is supposed operate.

I yield the remainder of my time to the gentleman from Arizona.

[time 1:34] Chairman: The gentleman from Arizona, Mr. Schweikert is recognized.

Rep. David Schweikert:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Representative Gallego, I appreciate that. Um, let’s put some facts around this.

Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is the tenth busiest airport in the United States. But we have something that’s a little unique. And think about this because this is coming to your neighborhood, too.

We actually have a downtown airport. Our city grew up around an airport, so it makes traffic patterns and the mechanics of dealing with it quite unique.

Also, our little county – well, our big county – has about 4.2 million people in it. It’s either the third or fourth most populous county in the United States. So, huge population – remember, Arizona bit of trivia, it’s the most urbanized state in the country.

Um, and then, I have a downtown airport, and then the FAA goes and starts to change the flight patterns. And then, when it becomes one of the biggest issues at all of our Congressional offices, they’re arrogant, they don’t return calls, we point out the fact that they’re violating last year’s law … and they just grin at you, and then walk out of the meetings with this sort of arrogant vanity.

[time 2:55] This is the process we as members – and remember, there’s seven Congressional Districts that touch this Phoenix Metroplex area, that all care about this. This is our opportunity to at least get our voices heard.

And I’m going to ask the Chairman, please, consider what’s happening to 4.2 million people in the Phoenix area. And the fact of the matter is, there’s well-established corridors where you don’t have to have the effects on the neighborhoods, and you can still be moving to the NextGen – if I could find somebody at the FAA who would actually listen to our concerns.

And with that I yield back to Mr. Gallego.

[time 3:36] Chairman: The gentleman from Arizona, Mr. Gallego.

Rep. Ruben Gallego:

Mr. Chair, could I add one minute?

Chairman: The gentleman from Arizona, Mr. Gallego, has a minute and a half remaining.

Rep. Ruben Gallego:

I appreciate that. Thank you, for the gentleman from Arizona.

Just to finish. This amendment is very straightforward. It would simply ensure that FAA does not proceed with the redesign of the regional airspace around the Sky Harbor Airport until these issues are resolved in the local neighborhoods.

Experts tell us that if the flight paths in Phoenix are eventually altered then the entire Metroplex airspace will also need to be revisited. So, by asking them to slow down, consider the overall effect of what is happening now, we’re actually going to do them a favor, by not having to revisit later on.

Instead of rushing forward, the FAA should just do the prudent thing and wait until all their communities’ concerns have been fully addressed.

In closing, let me just offer a word of warning.

For those of you who think this is exclusively a Phoenix problem, just wait, because your city could be next. And then you will be dealing exactly with the same FAA relationship that we’re dealing with right now. Someone who is not responsive to the concerns of both the local politicians, the members of Congress, and the citizens.

I yield back….