Washington, D.C. – June 11, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives and Alaska Congressman Don Young passed H.R. 2577, the Fiscal Year 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Act, by a vote of 216 to 210. During consideration of H.R. 2577, Congressman Young mounted several notable fights to defend Alaskan aviation interests, including efforts to defend UAA Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) graduates harmed by FAA hiring changes, which passed 240 to 186, and efforts to retain funding for the Essential Air Service program.
“For months, I’ve heard from CTI graduates and UAA officials regarding the harmful impacts the FAA’s new hiring practices have caused,” said Congressman Young. “The FAA and CTI schools across the nation established a commonsense partnership to train our next generation of air traffic controllers, but without warning or consultation these students had the rug pulled out from underneath them. I proudly supported an amendment offered by Rep. Hultgren to block funding from being used to administer the controversial Biographical Questionnaire, or BioQ screening test, which has been used to block fully qualified CTI graduates from attending the FAA Academy. This amendment sends a clear message to the Administration that their recent hiring protocol must be rethought, especially given recent reports that the FAA may have given certain individuals access to answers on key admission tests.”
Congressman Young also worked to defeat an amendment offered by Rep. Tom McClintock to eliminate funding for the Essential Air Service (EAS) program. The $155 million in discretionary funding for the EAS program, which maintains current spending levels, is a vital lifeline for many Alaskan rural communities who would not otherwise receive air service.
H.R. 2577, the House’s fifth appropriations package since April, provides $53.3 billion in discretionary spending for transportation, aviation, housing and other related federal projects.
“Overall, H.R. 2577 sets a fiscally responsible path for vital transportation and housing programs across the nation,” said Congressman Don Young. “The bill prioritizes spending that encourages innovation across our nation’s many transportation systems, while addressing improvements needed to ensure safety, eliminate waste, and improve access for programs relied upon by countless Alaskan families. In addition to increasing funds for Public and Indian Housing, H.R. 2577 ensures the Federal Aviation Administration receives the funding it needs to support air traffic control personal – an issue of high importance for a state with the largest number of pilots per capita.”
Items of Alaskan interest included in the H.R. 2577:
Essential Air Service (EAS) – $155 million
Alaska Flight Service Facility Modernization (AFSFM) – $2.65 million
Alaskan Satellite Telecommunications Infrastructure (ASTI) – $12.5 million
Other Important items included in H.R. 2577:
Department of Transportation – $17.2 billion, $1 billion below enacted
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – $15.9 billion, $137 million increase
Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) – $1.4 billion, $262 million decrease
Federal Transit Administration (FTA) – $10.7 billion, $139 million decrease.
Maritime Administration (MARAD) – $357 million, $16.1 million increase
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Section 8 and Public and Indian Housing – $26.8 billion, $353 million increase.
Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) – $3 billion w/ $60 million set aside for tribes
CDBG funding is relied upon by many Alaskan groups, including RuralCAP.
Native American Housing (NAHASDA) – $650 million, level funding
Bill provides $8 million to guarantee up to $1.27 billion in Section 184 loans, which provide low-income American Indians and Alaska Natives with low-interest home loans.