NEWSCLIP-2013-04-26: Transcript of Congressman Scott Perry, re: the FAA furlough situation

On April 26, 2013, Congressman Scott Perry from Pennsylvania released a YouTube video on the subject of the FAA furlough. Here are some key excerpts:

  • FAA’s budget has increased almost 110% since 1996 while domestic flights have decreased 27% since 2000; so, why are they having a hard time finding ways to meet a 5% sequester cut?
  • There are $2.7 Billion dollars of non-personnel operations costs that should have been examined before FAA personnel furloughs ever occurred.
  • Out of thirty air traffic control modernization programs, at least fifteen have experienced cost overruns, delays, or both, due to FAA mismanagement. The Inspector General found one contract in 2011, where FAA paid a contractor $150 Million dollars in cost incentive, even though the project was at least $330 Million dollars over budget. Why were these contracts not looked at, before furloughing personnel?

…and here is the FULL TRANSCRIPT:

“Today, the House voted on a bill that gives the FAA additional flexibility to address the furloughs of air traffic controllers. This bill was necessary because the President and the FAA have refused to use their authority to responsibly implement the sequester, so Congress will force them to do so, in order to protect the travelling public.

“The bill permits the FAA to transfer $253 Million dollars in Fiscal Year 2013 to air traffic controller salaries and expenses thus negating the necessity for more furloughs of controllers through the end of the Fiscal Year.  This bill is neutral in terms of the budget authority, meaning that there are no new dollars being spent to stop these unnecessary furloughs.

“Now, the bill also contains language permitting Secretary LaHood to do additional transfers within FAA accounts. This will allow him to restore the FAA contract towers, like Capital City, that were cut as part of the effort to reduce controller furloughs. An effort to include more robust language regarding restoration of contract towers like Capital City was rejected by Harry Reid, just last night.

“It is unfortunate that the House even has been put in this position by President Obama, and it is clear that this entire process was a political ploy that could have unnecessarily placed American lives, like yours and mine, at risk.

“Finding a 5% savings in a budget that has increased almost 110% since 1996 while domestic flights have decreased 27% since 2000 should be pretty easy. There are $2.7 Billion dollars of non-personnel operations costs that should have been examined before FAA personnel furloughs ever occurred. As a matter of fact, in Fiscal Year 2010 alone, the FAA spent over $8 Million dollars on conferences for its employees. Furthermore, a 2009 ABC news investigation said the events were quote ‘party time for 3,600 FAA employees’, with heavy drinking and inappropriate behavior. All on the taxpayers’ dime.

“And, out of thirty air traffic control modernization programs, at least fifteen have experienced cost overruns, delays, or both, due to FAA mismanagement. We couldn’t have looked at these conferences or projects, before furloughing personnel?

“In 2011, the Inspector General found that for one contract alone, the FAA paid a contractor $150 Million dollars in cost incentive, even though the project was at least $330 Million dollars over budget. We couldn’t have looked at projects like these for savings, before furloughing controllers and personnel?

“Unfortunately, the President only decided to act when he thought it was politically expedient. As a matter of fact, a Chicago Tribune headline this week said: ‘White House Scrambles for Damage Control’. That’s a quote.

“While I’m glad that the House acted in a responsible way to protect the safety and security of American travelers, I’m deeply disappointed that the President would play political games like these with our safety. It’s sad that the only thing that seems to motivate action by the President on creating flexibility with the sequester is political  poll numbers. That’s just not good public policy or leadership.

“Mr. President, we need you to lead on these issues, and not govern by poll numbers.

“I’m Congressman Scott Perry, thanks for watching.”