Thompson Fights For Rural Air Service
WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson today pushed back on an attempt to eliminate federal funding for rural air service as the House of Representatives passed legislation to reauthorize funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Rep. Thompson’s district includes three airports that participate in the Essential Air Service (EAS) Program: Bradford Regional Airport, DuBois Regional Airport, and Venango Regional Airport.
An amendment offered to H.R. 4, FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, attempted to end the program entirely. The amendment, following Thompson’s opposition, failed by a vote of 293-113.
Full text of Rep. Thompson’s speech:
I thank the Ranking Member for yielding and I rise in opposition to this amendment. We’ve been down this road before, yet again we are witnessing attempts to remove rural America’s connectivity to the national air transportation system.
Those who would look to scrap the EAS program often fail to acknowledge reforms that have been put in place to modernize and streamline the program. This reauthorization does the same.
Mr. Speaker, for too long rural America has received the scraps of our suburban and urban counterparts.
Last year, the Airport Improvement Program issued more than $264 million in grants to 95 airports in 31 states.
Among them, $2 million was issued for Sacramento International Airport in Sacramento, CA, to purchase five zero-emission electric shuttle buses to take passengers between the airport parking lots and the terminal buildings.
Mr. Speaker, these type of projects are nice, but the fact is that $2 million is about equal to the amount a small rural airport requires for commercial service for two years.
Let’s get serious here. Striking the Essential Air Service Program is bad for rural America. It’s time to stop the witch hunt on rural America, and I urge my colleagues to vote against this amendment.
I yield back the balance of my time.
The House of Representatives went on to pass H.R. 4, retaining the EAS Program, by a bipartisan vote of 393 to 13. Rep. Thompson voted in favor of the reauthorization.