What Matters Most to Me: Results for My Constituents03/14/2012
By Congressman Dan Lipinski
As your representative, my goal is to get things done to restore economic opportunity for the middle class, promote job growth, and make a difference in the everyday lives of Third District residents.
I continue to work toward that end through my five-point Jobs Plan, which aims to modernize our infrastructure, strengthen American manufacturing, stop unfair trade by China and others, improve education and workforce training, and promote innovation that enhances America’s competitiveness.
I am pleased to report that recently I was able to help break the partisan gridlock in Washington and achieve passage of one important component of my plan: the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization.
We all know that Midway and O’Hare airports are critical for our region, but it may surprise you that these airports help sustain $45 billion in economic activity and 540,000 local jobs. As air traffic increases and other regions seek to compete, maintaining our position as a global air traffic hub will require planning and investment to reduce delays. Nationally, delays cost $9.4 billion every year and the number of airline passengers is surging toward 1 billion annually.
That is why I have long pushed my colleagues to pass a long-term FAA reauthorization bill to modernize our aviation infrastructure. As 2012 began, this bill was nearly five years overdue.
Finally, last month Congress heeded my call for action, passing the bipartisan FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which the President signed into law. This legislation includes language I wrote to expedite the rollout of the critical NextGen satellite navigation system. While many people use GPS to guide them while they drive, our aircraft still use the outdated and inefficient radar system. NextGen will finally utilize GPS technology for aviation to reduce delays by an estimated 35 percent, saving the public, airlines, and the FAA an estimated $23 billion. By enabling aircraft to reduce descent times, NextGen will also cut down on noise for those living near airports such as Midway.
The bill also includes provisions I wrote to develop alternative forms of aviation fuel that reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and to promote recycling at airports, which are huge waste generators. Another piece of the bill I wrote requires the FAA to work on creating a lead-free fuel for piston-engine aircraft. Amazingly, more than 25 years after we stopped using lead in gas for our cars because of the negative health impact, these aircraft still emit lead.
With this bill in hand, the Chicago region is well positioned to take full advantage of its aviation infrastructure to compete for jobs in the 21st century economy.
Yet more remains to be done to modernize our infrastructure, as called for in my Jobs Plan. That is why I am working to pass a robust, long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill to fix our roads, public transportation, bridges, and railways. Such a bill will cut down on congestion and delays that cost Chicago-area residents and businesses $8.2 billion and countless wasted hours annually.
While we are closer than ever to passing this bill after a delay of more than two years, bad policy choices could still derail it. Already, the bill has been delayed by the efforts of House Republican leaders to end dedicated gas tax funding for mass transit. That could have resulted in steep cuts for the CTA, Metra, and Pace, hurting riders and forcing more cars onto our overcrowded roads.
Fortunately, I was able to join with both Democrats and Republicans to defeat that proposal. I am committed to building on that bipartisan effort to pass a bill that puts people to work in the short term building critical infrastructure projects and that strengthens long-term job growth by speeding the movement of goods and people.
Doing so is a critical step toward my goal of restoring economic opportunity and job growth and making a difference in the lives of Third District residents. That is what matters most to me and to the people I represent.