News Releases

Murray Spearheads Bipartisan Letter to Bush to Urge for Workers Assistance

Apr 04 2003

6 Senate Appropriations Conferees contend “Any airline relief package must … recognize the extraordinary needs of the people who have suffered the most from the industry downturn, our unemployed aviation industry workers”

(Washington, DC) – Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who authored the aviation workers assistance amendment in the Senate version of the War Supplemental, has spearheaded a bipartisan letter to the President to urge him to support the worker provision during the House-Senate conference on the War Supplemental.

The text of the letter follows

April 3, 2003

The Honorable George W. Bush The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

These are challenging times for our nation's airline industry. The economic downturn, wartime travel anxiety, and concern over the spread of SARS are all taking their toll on an already weakened industry and its workers. According to the Air Transport Association (ATA), half of all U.S. jobs lost since September 11, 2001, have been in the aviation and travel industries. Over 10,000 aviation industry workers have received pink slips since the start of the Iraq War and just this week, two of our nation's major air carriers announced further layoffs. The future outlook is not encouraging as the ATA is reporting that advance airline bookings have dropped by 30 to 40 percent. Our airlines, our airports, and our aviation workers need help now.

The Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill passed unanimously by the Senate Appropriations Committee includes a provision providing direct relief to our airlines and airports as well as expanded unemployment insurance for laid-off aviation industry workers. The companion bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee provides roughly the same level of overall assistance but targets that assistance solely to airlines. We are concerned by reports that the Administration views both the House and Senate packages as too large and misguided.

As members of the upcoming Conference Committee on the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, we strongly urge you to support aid for our airports, airlines and industry workers. Today's challenging times require aggressive action by Congress and the Administration if we are to avoid the complete collapse of our aviation industry. We ask that you recognize that any airline relief package must be sizeable enough to make a real difference in stemming the industry's precipitous decline and must recognize the extraordinary needs of the people who have suffered the most from the industry downturn, our unemployed aviation industry workers.

Sincerely,

Patty Murray (D-Wash.) Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tx.) Ernest Hollings (D-SC) Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) Harry Reid (D-NV)

cc: The Honorable Ted Stevens Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations