Tuesday Press Conference, Over 50 Meetings Highlight Two-Day Trip
Buffalo, New York- May 3, 2011 – Reacting to industry attempts to gut critical aviation safety legislation not even nine months after it was signed into law, over 30 members of the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ journeyed to Washington to oppose the inclusion of the Shuster amendment in the final compromise FAA Bill. The amendment, introduced by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), seeks to grind to a halt recent FAA momentum in critical safety rulemakings by imposing additional requirements in the regulatory process. The group planned to make their case in a press conference on Tuesday with Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), as well as Representatives Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Brian Higgins (D-NY), and Tom Reed (R-NY) (to be held at 10:45 a.m. in Room 216 Hart Senate Office Building), as well as in numerous meetings on both sides of the aisle and on both sides of the Hill.
“The past month has been a sad lesson in how some elements of our government operate,” stated Scott Maurer of Moore, SC, who lost his 30-year old daughter Lorin on Flight 3407. “Just go ahead and donate tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars to a politician over the course of his career, and he’ll bulldoze whatever legislation you feed him through the House. Our group has spent tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past two years, but that has been on plane tickets and gas and hotel rooms here in Washington. No votes have been attached to those dollars; we’ve had to pound the pavement and walk the halls for every single vote, and sadly, even that is still not going to be enough to bring my daughter back.”
The group also hailed recent FAA and NTSB statements that rebutted Shuster’s assertions leading up to the vote that it would not adversely affect any currently in-progress rulemakings, particularly the critical new pilot flight and duty time guidelines. The NTSB has had reducing pilot fatigue at the top of its Most Wanted List for over 20 years.
“With only two days between this amendment being sneaked in to the Rules Committee at the eleventh hour and then being voted on, the cargo and non-scheduled carriers were certainly slick in shielding the truth about this amendment from getting out,” stated Susan Bourque of East Aurora, New York, who lost her sister Beverly, a noted 9/11 widow who fought for reforms on the Hill for six years after she lost her husband in the World Trade Center. “But kudos to FAA and the NTSB for shining the light of day on this language and setting the record straight; there can be no question that the Shuster Amendment is bad for safety. There is no doubt in our minds that if we were given a fair chance to make our case to the House Republican caucus, that this amendment would not have the support of the majority of the House. Hopefully Senators Rockefeller, Hutchison, Cantwell, and DeMint will recognize that, and take a stand against this dangerous provision.”
The group also spotlighted a recent interview in Newsweek’s ‘The Daily Beast’ by ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ pilot Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, where he warned of the potential disastrous consequences for safety that the Shuster Amendment and attempts to cut the FAA’s budget could have.
“…if we’re being truthful with ourselves, that’s what we must do, and we must do it with real people’s faces in our minds,” declared Sullenberger. “The group of people I’m thinking about is the families of the victims of the Continental Connection crash in Buffalo in February 2009… It’s largely due to their efforts that we’ve gotten successfully through the Congress legislation that increases minimum pilot experience levels, that we’ve gotten as far as we have in the updating of fatigue rules, and if we allow the Shuster Amendment to remain in place in the final FAA version of the bill, it will be a slap in the face of the families of the Buffalo victims. So those who cut the budget need to have those family members’ faces in mind and they need to have the courage to tell those family members that we’re choosing to do this in spite of the consequences.”