On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I am writing to urge your support for the Surface and Air Transportation Program Extension Act of 2011 (H.R. 2887) when it is considered in the House of Representatives. This legislation will extend surface transportation programs through March 31, 2012 and aviation programs until January 31, 2012 and in the process keep thousands of transit, construction, aviation and rail workers on the job. Congress must complete action on this legislation without delay to avoid the expiration of FAA funding which occurs on September 16 and surface programs which expire at the end of this month.
While this legislation is vitally important, we have serious concerns that the 4,000 FAA employees who were furloughed in July have yet to receive back-pay for wages lost during the partial shutdown of the agency. These employees should not be expected to wait any longer to receive the back-pay they are owed by the federal government. We are also concerned that this bill cuts contract authority in highway programs by $3.1 billion. Given the state of our transportation system and overall economy it makes no sense to roll-back any investments in our transportation infrastructure.
At a time of high unemployment, the nation can ill afford any lapse in funding for these critical surface transportation and aviation investment programs. Once this extension bill is completed, Congress must turn its attention to completing long overdue multi-year reauthorizations that rebuild and support our transportation system and put millions of Americans to work.
We urge swift passage of the Surface and Air Transportation Programs Extension Act of 2011.