October 4, 2011 - Issue: Vol. 157, No. 147 — Daily Edition112th Congress (2011 - 2012) - 1st Session
PERSONAL EXPLANATION; Congressional Record Vol. 157, No. 147
(Extensions of Remarks - October 04, 2011)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Page E1760] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] PERSONAL EXPLANATION ______ HON. NICK J. RAHALL II of west virginia in the house of representatives Tuesday, October 4, 2011 Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Speaker, I regret that I was prevented from casting votes during last Monday night's session due to repeated delays of a flight from Charleston, West Virginia, to Washington. Had I been present, I would have voted in support of all three measures brought before the House--H.R. 686, H.R. 765, and H.R. 670. The flight, originally scheduled to depart at 4:50 p.m., did not leave Charleston until after 9 p.m., more than four hours late. In that time, the airline offered numerous excuses--maintenance, delayed flights that had backed up the system. Numerous alternative departure times were put forward and then retracted. Within one four-minute span, the airline emailed four different departure and arrival times. At moments, the arrival/departure information was so confused that the airplane would have had to violate the laws of physics in order to abide by the airline schedule. This is an all too often occurrence and often maintenance delay excuses are used to cover crew issues and/or other problems. Needless to say, all passengers were inconvenienced and the airline's explanations were wholly unsatisfactory. This flight delay prevented me from carrying out my Constitutional duty to represent the people of southern West Virginia: I feel I owe them and this body an explanation about why that was not possible last night. I recognize that flight delays happen and perhaps at times no one is to blame. But, given how disruptive and costly delays and cancellations can be, travelers ought to be able to depend upon consistent, timely air service to all communities, even in rural areas. Rural communities depend on air service like any other communities. It connects us to the global economy. Our businesses need to ship their goods. Our families, workers, and students need to travel. We need reliable, dependable air service. According to GAO, airports in rural communities have higher rates of delays and cancellations than airports in larger communities. That's simply not acceptable. As the Ranking Member on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I feel acutely aware of the transportation challenges this nation faces, and as I sat in that airport last evening--like so many other passengers at that airport and others across the nation--I was frustrated by the delay, annoyed at the changing excuses offered by the airline, and angered that I was unable to get to work on time. During all that time that I sat in the airport, I had plenty of time to think and to boil over that I was sitting there at the mercy of an airline whose veracity continued to come into increasing doubt. But I also had time to ponder our work here. We are in a great debate in this country about our federal budget, while at the same time we are struggling to get people back to work and get our economic engine humming again. I believe that improving our transportation system has to be one of our top priorities. We need to do more to ensure the efficient transportation of people and goods. We need to stop announcing delay, after delay. We need to stop offering political excuses. Otherwise, while we hold the future of our citizens captive, forcing them to wait and wait, we will only succeed in making them more and more frustrated and angry. We had better get off our duffs, come together, and make some real progress on a longterm measure that will ensure improvements to our transportation system and greater safety and reliability to business and the traveling public. And we had better do it soon. ____________________