URGENT: Tell Congress to Repeal Sequestration

Members of Congress will be returning to their home offices for a two-week recess starting March 25. This is the perfect opportunity for PASS members to meet with their senators and representative and urge them to repeal sequestration. Follow these steps today to set up an appointment with your members of Congress:

–    Make an appointment as soon as possible by contacting the office schedulers. You can find contact information for your members of Congress on their websites and should call their office to schedule an appointment. Be prepared that you may have to meet with a staff member if scheduling does not permit a meeting with your senators or representative directly.

–    Remember to schedule your meeting on non-duty time and to identify yourself as speaking on behalf of PASS. This is important to remember when contacting members of Congress as well as when speaking to the media.

–    Prior to your meeting, educate yourself on your members of Congress and carefully review the following sequestration talking points. The talking points are also available on the national website by clicking here.

–    It is important to stay on message during the meeting and make a clear request for action. Make it clear that you are asking lawmakers to repeal the budget cuts stemming from sequestration.

–    In addition to the talking points listed below, relate the issue to the impact it is having on the local community, constituents and the flying public in the state/district. Your elected lawmakers want to hear real information from their constituents.

–    After the meeting, please remember to follow up by sending a thank you note to any congressional staff members who attended the meeting. Also, let PASS know about your meeting and any requests for additional information.

–    If you have any questions about setting up your meeting or the talking points, please contact your regional member on the PASS National Legislative Committee or the national office.

Repeal Sequestration Talking Points

•    On March 1, automatic budget cuts went into effect requiring every agency to make budget cuts. Specifically, the FAA will have to cut $627 million from its budget this fiscal year. While PASS and the FAA are dedicated to preserving the safety of the system above all else, unfortunately, this will be done by making major operational changes.

•    A cut to the FAA’s budget will result in the furloughing of most of FAA’s 47,000 employees for at least one day per pay period through the end of the fiscal year. Even those employees who provide safety-critical services, such as systems specialists and aviation safety inspectors, will be furloughed. As much as 10 percent of the FAA’s workforce would be on furlough on any given day, resulting in reduced air traffic control, longer delays, and economic losses for air transportation, tourism and the economy as a whole.

•    As a result of the furloughs, the FAA aviation safety workforce will have to focus primarily on the oversight of existing operators and reduce the approval for new carriers and equipment. Airlines, aviation manufacturers and pilots need FAA safety approvals and certifications in order to operate. The FAA estimates that sequestration could impact the approval process for as many as 1,480 ongoing aircraft and part manufacturing projects.

•    The FAA is currently in the process of modernizing the aviation system through the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). As sequestration takes effect, investment in new technologies and tools will be postponed and program implementation will be delayed. In some cases, this delay could last years.

•    According to the FAA, the budget cuts will force the agency to eliminate midnight shifts at over 60 air traffic control towers across the country. Over 100 towers at airports with fewer than 150,000 flight operations or 10,000 commercial operations per year will be closed. The elimination of shifts and facility closures will no doubt impact the traveling public who trust the aviation system to function as promised.

•    Sequestration will reduce preventative maintenance of aviation systems and equipment. FAA systems specialists perform this maintenance in order to ensure efficient operation. If this maintenance is reduced, the potential for outages increases. And, with limited staff due to furloughs, equipment issues that could have been prevented or corrected in very short time will take hours to remedy, leading to major air traffic delays.

•    The FAA has already been forced to institute a hiring freeze, which means that the agency will not be able to replace retiring systems specialists and inspectors. With the high number of FAA employees eligible to retire and the considerable amount of time it takes to train a new employee, this could result in significant staffing challenges at facilities nationwide.

•    Aviation plays a critical role in today’s economy and provides invaluable services to the flying American public and the military. The NAS safely accommodates two million passengers on 7,000 flights every day, and the aviation system provides $1.3 trillion through the commercial aviation industry and 10.2 million jobs.

•    Sequestration will have far-reaching, negative consequences, and our country cannot gamble with the already unstable economy by allowing these cuts to occur. In order to ensure the continued efficiency of this country’s aviation system, the dedicated FAA workforce urges lawmakers to work together to develop a solution that reverses the automatic budget cuts that took place on March 1.

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