The biggest threat to the popular legislation is a proposal to privatize air traffic control backed by a Congressman with a personal relationship with an airline lobbyist.
Here we go again, trying to get a pilot’s medical certification proposal past the finish line.
Whether it happens or not, kudos to the U.S. Senate, which earlier this week passed its version of the bill, part of the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2. The House needs to follow suit. Previous attempts to get the bill passed by the full assembly have fallen short. We urge the House leadership to make this happen. Very seldom is there a bill that lands on the right side of history and the rights of the citizenry.
The bill calls for a slightly watered-down version of the third class medical reform bill that’s been floated for years. While there will be more FAA oversight of pilot’s health—mandating logbook entries, visits to the pilot’s personal physician and an online education requirement—than in previous bills, pilots will be allowed broad rights to fly advanced aircraft in the low flight levels and with up to six onboard.
The bill is being held up in the House, once again, by the obstructionist tactics of Rep. Bill Shuster (R–Hollidaysburg), who’s committed to privatizing air traffic control, a proposal that has extremely limited support elsewhere in the House. Shuster is in a relationship with a lobbyist for the airlines who’s pushing for the very legislation that Shuster is pushing in the House. Shuster has repeatedly refused to recuse himself from the legislation. Quite to the contrary, he has doggedly backed it, even in the face of opposition from his Republican colleagues in the House.
Shuster is locked in a tight race for his seat in Congress in Central Pennsylvania and the issue has become a central tenet of the race, which observers say is neck and neck.
We’d suggest to Shuster a great game plan to pull ahead in the tight race would be to recuse himself from all further airline-friendly legislation immediately and to get behind medical reform, which enjoys broad support as a law that would take big government largely out of the process in a way what won’t impact safety, but that will save Americans hundreds of millions of dollars a year in unnecessary and unjustifiable medical costs.
It’s time for Shuster to put politics, lobbyist’s interests and personal relationships aside and get on the side of the people.