NATCA in Washington 2019

NATCA in Washington 2019 is just one month away!

Registration is now closed. If you registered, but have not yet heard from your National Legislative Committee (NLC) member whether you were selected to attend based on the congressional districts in which you reside, please contact your NLC member (contact information here).

The conference kicks off on Sunday, May 19. Registration opens at 1 p.m. EDT, and the opening reception begins at 7 p.m. EDT. The general session begins Monday, May 20 at 9 a.m. EDT. There will be regional breakout sessions from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and 5-6 p.m. EDT, and regional dinners that evening.

Our first confirmed speaker is Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., at 4 p.m. EDT on May 20. Congressman Meadows has represented North Carolina's 11th Congressional District since 2013. He is an active member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, where he serves on the Aviation Subcommittee. Additionally, he serves on the Government Reform Committee, and is the top Republican on the Government Operations Subcommittee which has jurisdiction over many federal employee issues.

On Tuesday, May 21, there will be workshop classes in the morning on a variety of important legislative topics. These classes will be followed by scheduled congressional meetings in the afternoon and our annual congressional reception late that afternoon. More scheduled congressional meetings will be held on Wednesday, May 22. We will provide a full agenda to registered attendees as we get closer to the event.

"In many ways, because of the 35-day government shutdown, it feels like this will be our fourth NATCA in Washington of the year," NLC Chair Steve Weidner said. "Our dedicated NATCA activists from around the country who came to Washington, D.C., to talk about the shutdown with members of Congress and their staff members, and its intensely negative effects, set the stage for the 'main event' next month. We are excited to bring more than 450 dedicated NATCA members to the nation's capital to continue these critically important discussions."

Weidner added, "We say each year, 'this is our most important NATCA in Washington ever,' and this year is no different. It really is. From potential shutdown threats looming, to constant vigilance about changes to federal employee retirement and other benefits, controller staffing issues, and more, each of our members' discussions with their Congressional district offices will carry enormous importance and every NATCA member will be affected by what transpires."
Update on Current Legislation
H.R. 1108  Aviation Funding Stability Act of 2019
NATCA supports H.R. 1108.  If enacted, this legislation would ensure that the aviation system continues to fully operate, without interruption, in the event of a government shutdown. 

H.R. 1108 was introduced by Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, and Rick Larsen, D-Wash., Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee. The lead Republican on the legislation is Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, a senior member of the House T&I Committee. This legislation was introduced following the 35-day government shutdown that wreaked havoc on the National Airspace System and its workforce.

The T&I Committee passed H.R. 1108 on Wednesday, March 27 by unanimous consent. Since introduction of the bill, the NLC, NATCA activists, and Government Affairs staff have been aggressively working to encourage members of Congress to sign on as co-sponsors to this important legislation. The legislation has faced hurdles and political challenges, especially among the leadership of the House Appropriations Committee and the House Ways & Means Committee. Despite that, the legislation has garnered 146 bipartisan co-sponsors so far.

"Stop-and-go funding crises wreak havoc on the personal lives of air traffic controllers and other aviation safety professionals, degrade the safety of the National Airspace System, delay critical modernization and infrastructure projects, and exacerbate the current controller staffing crisis," NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said. "We absolutely must not endure even one more day living and working under a government shutdown. Our aviation system, which is a national treasure, deserves better. The system requires a stable, predictable funding stream. Chairman DeFazio's bill provides a better way, and it has our full support."
S. 1148 Air Traffic Controller (ATC) Hiring Reform Act of 2019
On April 11, Senators John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., introduced the Air Traffic Controller Hiring Reform Act of 2019, legislation to help improve the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) hiring process for air traffic controllers.  NATCA strongly supports the ATC Hiring Reform Act of 2019. The National Airspace System (NAS) has reached a 30-year low in the number of fully certified controllers, and enactment of this legislation would address some of the barriers that slow the FAA's hiring process for new controller trainees. NATCA thanks Senator Hoeven and Senator Shaheen for their leadership on this important bipartisan legislation.
More NATCAvists Join Legislative Ranks
A group of NATCA members gathered in Las Vegas to become NATCAvists by taking NATCA Academy's Legislative Activism Training class. In the course, members learned from Southern Alternate Regional Vice President Jason Arnold and National Legislative Committee member Richard Kennington (Northwest Mountain Region) about the legislative process and the vital role NATCAvists play in protecting NATCA's interests through legislation.

"The new legislative activists were very engaged, everyone participated, and the questions and answers between the members and instructors were very genuine and detailed," Arnold said. "The best part was the interaction with the member activists. They truly energize me as an instructor."

Kennington said, "Participants took mock meetings with 'Representatives Arnold and Kennington,' and they learned all sorts of techniques for future congressional meetings."

Member activists asked a variety of questions covering topics from the legislative process, to the Hatch Act, to different ways to promote NATCA's interests to their elected officials.

Hatch Act Tip of the Month
Do Not Post Political Messages While on Duty or at Work

The Hatch Act restricts the political activity of federal government employees. While on duty or in the workplace, federal employees may not post, like, share, or retweet a message or comment in support of or opposition to a political party, candidate in a partisan race, or partisan political group, even if your social media account is private. If you have a question about whether something is allowed, contact your National Legislative Committee member.
NATCA Activism in Local Districts
IOWA: Congresswoman Axne Tours Tower Facility

Iowa Congresswoman Cindy Axne toured Des Moines ATCT (DSM). The tour was led by Alternate Central Region National Legislative Committee Member Ryan Burr, DSM FacRep Dan Sherritt, Iowa State Legislative Coordinator Sarah Soma, and DSM Air Traffic Manager Ken Henze. 
"Congresswoman Axne showed a lot of interest in our work and expressed some surprise at the scope of what we do," Burr said.
NEW MEXICO: Members Emphasize the Importance of Stable, Predictable Funding to Congressman  Luján

New Mexico Congressman Ben Luján toured Albuquerque ATCT (ABQ), guided by ABQ VP Danny Richardson, Albuquerque Center (ZAB) Legislative Rep Derek Bray, and acting ABQ Air Traffic Manager Betsy Sutton. Congressman  Luján is the Assistant Speaker of the House, the fourth-highest position in the chamber.

"Along with so many other projects, the acquisition of airspace around Santa Fe ATCT (SAF) was delayed because of the senseless government shutdown," Bray said. "We were able to use this example to educate the congressman and his district staff about the need for stable, predictable funding for the FAA." 
TEXAS: Controllers Discuss NATCA's Legislative Priorities with Congressman Marchant

Congressman Kenny Marchant and ZFW member Jimmy Clouse

Clouse, Republican National Committee Co-Chair Tommy Hicks, and ZFW member Bill Dewey

Alternate Southwest Region National Legislative Committee Member Bill Dewey and Fort Worth Center (ZFW) member Jimmy Clouse recently met with Texas Congressman Kenny Marchant at a legislative event, where they represented their NATCA brothers and sisters to our elected officials.

"I was very fortunate to attend on behalf of NATCA," Clouse said. "Bill and I also had the opportunity to speak with Tommy Hicks, Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee, about NATCA's legislative priorities and aviation safety."
NEW JERSEY: Members Attend Congressman Pascrell's St. Patrick's Day Celebration
Pictured, left to right: EWR member Guiseppe De Pinto, TEB member Carlos Wyre, N.J. Congressman Bill Pascrell, EWR FacRep Bill Striffler, and EWR member James Lovett

Teterboro ATCT (TEB) member Carlos Wyre and  Newark ATCT (EWR) members Giuseppe De Pinto, James Lovett, and EWR FacRep Bill Striffler represented NATCA at New Jersey Congressman Bill Pascrell's annual St. Patrick's Day celebration at the Brownstone in Paterson, N.J.

"We spoke with the congressman and were able to thank him for his support during the shutdown," Striffler said. "He expressed his thanks for our support and hard work despite the hardship."
RHODE ISLAND: Congressman David Cicilline Hosts Labor Community Breakfast

Alternate New England Region National Legislative Committee Member and Providence ATCT (PVD) member Juan Ledesma and PVD Legislative Rep Jamie Green met with Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline at a labor community breakfast. 

"We were able to discuss H.R. 1108 with his Chief of Staff Chris Bizzacco," Ledesma said. "After our meeting, we heard back the next day from his office that Congressman Cicilline became a cosponsor of H.R. 1108."
FLORIDA: Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell Tweets About the Importance of Safety After Visiting Miami Tower

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell visited Miami ATCT (MIA) to meet the aviation safety professionals who work there and tour the airport facilities. Mucarsel-Powell's Deputy District Chief of Staff Natalia Vanegas and District Chief of Staff Daniel Horton-Diaz joined her on the tower tour, led by NATCA Miami Center (ZMA) Legislative Rep Daniel Garcia-Barbon, MIA FacRep William Kisseadoo, MIA Legislative Rep Ricardo Martínez, and Christina Chang (MIA). 
Mucarsel-Powell, who serves on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, also met with MIA Director Lester Sola to learn more about the airport. She said in a post-tour tweet that she prioritizes safety and fighting for workers like those she met during the visit.
TEXAS: Congressman Al Green Tours Houston Hobby Tower

Texas State Legislative Coordinator and Houston Center (ZHU) member Eric Avila (pictured above) and Houston Hobby (HOU) FacRep Brock Reisdorf led a tour of HOU for Texas Congressman Al Green along with two local Houston staffers. The congressman viewed the damage caused by flooding to the tower from 2017's Hurricane Harvey. The tower still doesn't have flooring near the elevator along with continued moisture problems. The congressman was surprised to find out these issues are still outstanding and has asked Reisdorf to reach out to his office to get help fixing the building. 
The tour continued in the tower cab where the congressman visited each position and was given an overview of the tower responsibilities. Along with explaining the tower environment, the congressman gained a basic understanding of the National Airspace System beyond the terminal. 
VIRGINIA: Congressman Larsen Visits Washington National Tower

Washington Congressman Rick Larsen stopped by Washington National ATCT (DCA)  as part of his visit with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA). While there, he met with NATCA DCA members Russ Adams and Legislative Rep Christopher Schreiber (pictured above). Adams talked about the facility and the history of the airport, and Schreiber then took the congressman up to the tower. 

The congressman had questions about NextGen as well as the noise impact on the surrounding communities based on runways in use. The conversation included DCA's effect on the National Airspace System and thanking the congressman for his support of H.R. 1108. 
KANSAS: Congressman Marshall Tours Kansas City Center
Kansas Congressman Roger Marshall toured Kansas City Center (ZKC) guided by FacRep Todd Mariani, VP Nathan Burch, Kansas State Legislative Coordinator and ZKC Legislative Rep Jami Davis, Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) FacRep Robert Riggs, and Air Traffic Manager Christina Calvert.

The group discussed how the air traffic system works and talked about the staffing issues at ZKC, as well as those throughout the country. "We explained to the congressman that air traffic controllers are experiencing the lowest staffing ever within the past 30 years," said Mariani. "We discussed the impacts that government shutdowns have on the hiring process, and further impacts on students at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City."  

The congressman asked what he could do to help, and we told him that a stable, predictable funding stream is paramount to not only our hiring process, but all programs across the NAS such as CPDLC (Controller Pilot Data Link Communication). We thanked Congressman Marshall for his support in the past and for cosponsoring H.R. 1108. We informed him that Kansas was the first state to have all congressional delegates cosponsor the bill.
KENTUCKY: Members Discuss H.R. 1108 with Congressman Rogers

Kentucky State Legislative Rep and Greater Cincinnati ATCT (CVG) member John Buonadonna and Lexington ATCT (LEX) Legislative Rep Ellie Bermudez represented NATCA members at an event with Congressman Hal Rogers.

"This event allowed us to get two days of face time with Congressman Rogers and his Chief of Staff," Buonadonna said. "Thanks goes to Ellie, as this was her first congressional event after attending the Legislative Activism Training class in Atlanta last month."

Bermudez is an H.R.5292 Air Traffic Controller Hiring Improvement Act of 2016 beneficiary, and she thanked the Congressman for his "yes vote" on the bill. Bermudez and Buonadonna invited Rogers and his staff to LEX for a facility visit and they also continued to ask him to cosponsor H.R. 1108.
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