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Here We Go Again, Another Government Shutdown.

Image by Brunswyk WikiCommons

Image by Brunswyk WikiCommons

Are we really going to do this again?

In 2013, we as a country endured the 16 day government shutdown that cost taxpayers $24 billion dollars.  Tea Party extremists led by Senator Ted Cruz shutdown the government in a feeble attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

No party or faction inside a party should hold our economy hostage to extract political gains,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO after the conclusion of the 2013 shutdown.

“Federal employees are nobody’s bargaining chip,” said J. David Cox Sr, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees after the 2013 shutdown concluded.

Yet here we are again, less than a week away from yet another government shutdown.  Republicans and Tea Partier’s alike are threatening to shut down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides life saving health screenings and treatment for millions of women across the country.

“With less than two weeks until a possible government shutdown, working families in New Hampshire and across the country just don’t have time for more partisan games and political theater,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster.

“To shut down the government for any reason is irresponsible and reckless,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen at a recent event supporting Planned Parenthood. “It is simply reprehensible. We should not, we cannot let this happen.”

Even my Republican Senator, Kelly Ayotte, is calling for an end to this political grandstanding and threats of shutting down the government.

“The game Congress is playing right now is a dangerous game of chicken. We already know right now what it will take to keep the government open – a clean funding bill. We should not be wasting time on political stunt votes that will only make a shutdown more likely…” said Ayotte. “With that in mind, I cannot in good conscience support a political messaging bill that would risk a costly, harmful shutdown when there is no strategy for success. It’s time to quit the political games on both sides of the aisle. We know what we need to do to keep the government running – so let’s take that vote right now instead of playing political games while the clock ticks down.”

We have to take Senator Ayotte’s statements with a large grain of salt because she has already voted to defund Planned Parenthood and twice voted to shut down the government.

“Since going to Washington, Ayotte has not only voted repeatedly to defund Planned Parenthood, but she’s also already voted to shut down the government twice. WGBH’s David S. Bernstein also points out that in 2013, it was only after “taking blame” from independents that Ayotte tried to “publicly position herself” against Ted Cruz’s antics,” wrote the New Hampshire Democratic Party Communications Director Lizzy Price.

We must move out of this bi-annual shutdown cycle that we are currently stuck in.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, who were very vocal during the last shutdown, are condemning politicians for political grandstanding again.

Shutting down the government would have detrimental effects on the National Airspace System (NAS) that “contributes $1.5 trillion annually to the U.S. gross domestic product and the NAS supports more than 12 million American jobs.”  Aside from calling for an end to threat of government shutdowns every two years, they are calling for a new, stable source of funding from the government that would remove the NAS from the effects of partisan budgetary bickering.

“We’ve been asking Congress to establish a stable funding mechanism for the NAS since the last shutdown ended,” said NATCA President Paul Rinaldi. “Yet two years later, we find ourselves in the same situation, where the efficiency of the safest airspace system in the world could be negatively affected due to disagreement over an issue unrelated to aviation. The looming shutdown is further evidence that stable, predictable funding is an essential next step for Congress.”

We need our elected leaders to work together to resolve their differences and put partisan issues aside to keep the government open.  The health and safety of millions of Americans are at risk over this political grandstanding by Republicans in Washington.

NATCA Calls on Congress to Prevent Shutdown, Provide Stable Funding for National Airspace System

NATCA LOGOWASHINGTON – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) is calling on Congress to prevent a government shutdown and provide the National Airspace System (NAS) with stable, predictable funding.

“We’ve been asking Congress to establish a stable funding mechanism for the NAS since the last shutdown ended,” said NATCA President Paul Rinaldi. “Yet two years later, we find ourselves in the same situation, where the efficiency of the safest airspace system in the world could be negatively affected due to disagreement over an issue unrelated to aviation. The looming shutdown is further evidence that stable, predictable funding is an essential next step for Congress.”

Commercial aviation contributes $1.5 trillion annually to the U.S. gross domestic product and the NAS supports more than 12 million American jobs. In order to grow, modernize and help power the U.S. economy, aviation cannot be subjected to repeated budget crises. Shutdowns, sequestration cuts, and the uncertainty they have wrought have peeled away layers of safety redundancies and diminished the FAA’s ability to maintain fully staffed and trained workforces.

There are now almost 1,000 fewer controllers in the workforce and more of them eligible to retire, 24 percent, than during the last government shutdown. Because of that shutdown and due to sequestration cutbacks, the FAA forced a halt to its hiring and training from March to December 2013, resulting in its inability to keep up with the pace of attrition. If another shutdown forces another freeze to the hiring and training of controllers, the number of understaffed facilities would increase and air traffic capacity would be reduced.

The last government shutdown was detrimental to the NAS. Three thousand NATCA aviation safety professionals, vital to the daily function, maintenance and safety of the system, were furloughed. NextGen programs, procedures and technology were delayed, which cost millions of dollars. The FAA was forced to cease maintenance work on NAS equipment, and stop important projects at the nation’s busiest airports. FAA working groups were unable to meet, delaying implementation of new airspace and safety procedures.

“For years the FAA has faced an unstable, unpredictable funding stream, and each interruption has negatively affected all aspects of the FAA’s operations and planning,” said NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert. “These problems cannot continue. Air traffic controllers and other aviation safety professionals work day-in and day-out to keep our aviation system the safest, most efficient in the world; it’s in their DNA. Our members and the flying public deserve a work environment that is not plagued by uncertainty. Members of Congress cannot put the country through another shutdown. They must prevent it and find a way to provide stable funding for the NAS.”

Certified in 1987, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association represents over 20,000 highly skilled air traffic controllers, engineers and other aviation safety professionals.

Sen. Shaheen Calls-out Republican Congressional Leadership For Ignoring Conservation Program

Despite Bipartisan Urging, Reauthorization of Land and Water Conservation Fund Left-out of Government Funding Bill

(Washington, DC) – Despite calls from both sides of the aisle to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in legislation to avert a government shutdown, Senate Republican leadership released a proposed government funding bill that doesn’t address the expiration of the program at the end of the month. Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) decried the lack of attention by Congressional leadership to the looming shutdown of this conservation program: 

“It’s disgraceful that a program that has done so much to preserve and protect New Hampshire’s beautiful spaces is being flatly ignored by Republican leadership in Congress,” said Shaheen. “We’re on the eve of shutting down this program despite reauthorization having broad bipartisan support. This is incredibly short sighted and sets a dangerous precedent for other important conservation programs that will soon need Congressional approval. The expiration of the Land and Water Conservation Fund is another manufactured crisis that would do real harm to New Hampshire’s outdoor recreation industry.”

Last week, Senator Shaheen led a bipartisan letter signed by 51 senators to Senate leadership calling for the reauthorization of LWCF before it expires.  

Over the past month, Senator Shaheen has been highlighting the importance of permanently reauthorizing and fully funding LWCF to New Hampshire’s economic growth and environmental stewardship. Hosting events in Concord with Interior Secretary Jewell, Nashua, and the Ossippee Pine Barrens, Senator Shaheen discussed her track record of supporting the LWCF program and why its impact is vital to New Hampshire communities.

Tourism is New Hampshire’s second largest industry. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, the outdoor recreation economy supports 49,000 jobs and produces $4.2 billion in direct consumer spending in New Hampshire.

NH Voters Strongly Support Planned Parenthood Funding

New Survey Finds New Hampshire Voters Strongly Support Planned Parenthood Funding, Strongly Oppose Potential Government Shutdown

Poll Finds Major Political Liability for Senator Ayotte Due to Her Support for Defunding Preventive Health Care Services at Planned Parenthood

Planned_Parenthood_logo.svgWashington, DC—A new survey conducted by Hart Research Associates on behalf of Planned Parenthood Action Fund shows that New Hampshire voters strongly support Planned Parenthood despite weeks of outrageous political attacks from anti-abortion extremists and their allies in Congress. The poll found strong opposition to measures like the one the Executive Council approved last week to defund the preventive health services, including cancer screenings and birth control, that Planned Parenthood provides to millions of women in communities across the country; overwhelming opposition to a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood; and major political liability for Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who voted earlier this month to defund these vital health services.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 66 percent of New Hampshire voters oppose defunding Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services, including 72 percent of Independents.
  • 65 percent of New Hampshire voters do not believe that defunding is justified by the deceptively-edited videos released in recent weeks by anti-abortion extremists.
  • An overwhelming majority of New Hampshire voters (75 percent), including a majority of Republican voters (51 percent), have an unfavorable reaction to the idea of shutting down the federal government to block any funding for Planned Parenthood.
  • 56 percent of New Hampshire voters would be less likely to support Sen. Ayotte for re-election as a result of her vote to defund preventive health care services at Planned Parenthood.
  • Roughly two-thirds of New Hampshire voters (68 percent) want Sen. Ayotte to take a clear stand right now against shutting down the government over Planned Parenthood. And nearly two-thirds of voters (62 percent) would be less likely to support Sen. Ayotte for re-election if she votes to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood.

You can find a memo from Hart Research Associates HERE. You can find the poll’s top lines HERE.

Statement of Geoff Garin, President, Hart Research Associates

“These findings in New Hampshire mirror the findings from our national survey: strong support for Planned Parenthood, strong opposition to defunding, and clear political danger signs for Senators who continue to pursue attacks on Planned Parenthood and an anti-women’s health agenda. Support for defunding Planned Parenthood will take a political toll on Sen. Ayotte, including among voters who otherwise might be inclined to support her for reelection. These results leave little doubt that those who want to lead their party to a shutdown fight over Planned Parenthood are creating the likelihood of a political debacle for the Republican Party brand and for GOP candidates in 2016 reelection battles.”

Statement of Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“Today’s poll makes it clear: American voters continue to stand strongly with Planned Parenthood and reject these transparently political attacks. Voters know who Planned Parenthood is: the nation’s most trusted reproductive health care provider, and the place millions of women, men and young people turn to each year for basic, preventive care such as birth control or cancer screenings. This relentless, month-long campaign by anti-abortion extremists has not swayed voters, instead they see it for what it is: a concerted effort to end access to safe and legal abortion that is well outside the mainstream. As this poll, and the three national polls before it have shown us, there is a political price to pay for politicians who attack Planned Parenthood and get swept up in a race to the bottom on women’s health.”

Statement of Jennifer Frizzell, Vice President, Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund

“For fifty years, tens of thousands of New Hampshire women, men, and young people have chosen Planned Parenthood of Northern New England as their healthcare provider. Today’s polling makes it crystal clear that politicians like Senator Kelly Ayotte, who has repeatedly voted for defunding Planned Parenthood, are on the wrong side of public opinion, the wrong side of public health, and the wrong side of history. New Hampshire voters are watching and they will remember in 2016.”

Last year, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England served 41,643 patients, nearly 13,000 of them in New Hampshire.

Planned Parenthood’s non-profit health centers provide a wide range of preventive health care services, and serve a total of 2.7 million patients per year — at least 60 percent of whom benefit from public health coverage programs such as the nation’s family planning program and Medicaid. More than half of Planned Parenthood’s health centers are in rural or medically-underserved areas, meaning that often without Planned Parenthood, our patients would have nowhere else to turn for reproductive health care. More than 90 percent of the care Planned Parenthood provides is preventive, including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Approximately 1 in 5 women has relied on a Planned Parenthood health center for care in her lifetime.

The surveys released today follow a national survey with similar findings released two weeks ago. That survey found that 64 percent of voters nationwide, including 72 percent of Independents, do not agree with Congressional Republicans who say that “there should be an immediate vote to end all government funding for Planned Parenthood, including for services Planned Parenthood provides, such as cancer screenings and family planning” because of the videos.


Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in New Hampshire. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including legislative education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy. Follow us on Twitter.

AFSCME Workers Rally To Avoid State Government Shutdown


Great news from AFSCME about their huge win in Washington State.

It took thousands of public employees rallying across Washington state at more than 100 locations over two days this May and June to urge state legislators to agree to a sensible budget and avert a shutdown of state services on July 1.

And they won.

Just before the stroke of midnight on June 30, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed the new, biennial operating budget that funded AFSCME Council 28 members’ first pay raises in seven years, and holds the line on health care costs.

The budget deal averted a shutdown of state services, including the closure of all state parks, the end of most community supervision of dangerous criminals released from prison and the temporary layoff of 26,000 state employees – about half of the general government workforce.

Council 28 members worked all session with a wide array of activities to pressure the Republicans controlling the state Senate to finally do the right thing. That included the “Unity Breaks” and “Unity Rallies” staged simultaneously on two different days in every corner of the state to stop the possible furlough of half of state agency workers if there was no budget by June 30.

In the end, the Republicans’ proposals to roll back many key collective bargaining rights – proposals written by a conservative think tank – all failed, thanks to the public heat Council 28 members generated.

“Through our member education, our member lobby program, our coordinated statewide in-district actions, our calls, our emails, our constant pressure on the Legislature, we narrowly avoided a state government shutdown,” said April Sims, Council 28’s legislative and political action field coordinator…


NATCA’S Proven, Powerhouse Leadership Team, Will Continue To Lead NATCA For The Next Three Years

NATCA Convention 2010 (Micah Maziar (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0))

NATCA Convention 2010 (Micah Maziar (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0))

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert
to Serve Historic Third Term

Over the past twenty-seven years the National Air Traffic Controllers Association has grown to become one of the biggest power players in Washington D.C. NATCA was formed from the ashes of the PATCO strike, when President Ronald Reagan summarily fired over 12,000 air traffic controllers on August 3rd 1981.

The problems that the PATCO controllers talked about – safety, fatigue, and equipment failures – did not go away when the workers were terminated. A few years after that dreadful day, a new generation of controllers began to organize and eventually formed the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).

NATCA was officially certified as the sole representative for Federal air traffic controllers in an overwhelming election in 1987. Since that small and humble beginning, NATCA has grown to represent over 20,000 public and private air traffic controllers, as well as engineers and safety professionals who help make the National Airspace System the safest and most efficient in the world.

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi

This week the National Air Traffic Controllers Association announced the reelection of President Paul Rinaldi and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert. They will be the first President and Executive Vice President in the history of NATCA to serve three terms in their respective positions. They ran for the third term unopposed.

“I am honored that the incredible professionals of NATCA give their full support for Executive Vice President Gilbert and me to represent them for another term,” said Rinaldi. “We look forward to continuing our work as their voices in Washington and around the world to enhance collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration and the aviation industry, and to advance the safety and efficiency of the National Airspace System.”

“The opportunity to continue representing my NATCA brothers and sisters is a true privilege,” said Gilbert. “The dedication and passion they have for their professions and the system is unrivaled. Together, we have accomplished so much over the past six years; I’m eager to continue building on the work we’ve done and take NATCA and the National Airspace System to new heights.”


Labor Struggles Shape NATCA’s Future

Paul Rinaldi began his career as a controller at Dulles (IAD) Tower where he served as the Facility Representative and the Alternate Regional Vice President for the Eastern Region. Rinaldi’s diverse history in NATCA includes time as an Air Safety Investigator and arbitration advocate.

In 2006, Rinaldi was elected to the National Executive Board as NATCA’s Executive Vice President. At the time, NATCA was in a bitter labor dispute with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA and NATCA could not come to an agreement on their Collective Bargaining Agreement and the FAA unilaterally forced its “last best offer” on to the membership. These “imposed work rules” slashed the pay for newly hired controllers and sparked outrage by the membership.

These were tough times for NATCA members and it would take strong leadership from their then-President Patrick Forrey and his newly elected Executive Vice President Rinaldi. As push came to shove, and speaking became yelling, NATCA members banded together to fight the oppressive work rules. NATCA would later describe this “as the worst time in our union’s history.”

To overcome these “imposed work rules,” NATCA needed a legislative fix and leadership change from the White House down. At the time, Trish Gilbert was the chair of NATCA’s Legislative Committee. This very difficult but prestigious position was responsible for making NATCA’s issues known to the members of Congress.

NATCA had many friends on the Hill, both Republican and Democrat. Trish Gilbert and all of NATCA’s legislative team lobbied the members to help resolve this dispute. NATCA found help from the relatively unknown Junior Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.

In 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama, spoke to NATCA members at their annual lobby week, NATCA in Washington.


Just prior to speaking at the NATCA in Washington event, Senator Obama co-sponsored bi-partisan legislation written by Senators Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and James M. Inhofe, R-Okla — The Federal Aviation Administration Fair Labor Management Dispute Resolution Act of 2006 — to block the FAA from imposing its work rules and require it to bargain in good faith with NATCA.

Though the bill failed to stop the FAA from imposing their “work rules,” Senator Obama solidified his relationship with NATCA and the 15,000 air traffic controllers it represents.

NATCA worked with other labor unions across the nation to help Senator Obama become President Obama.

On top of his other union obligations, (then-Executive Vice President) Rinaldi spend much of his time traveling the country, speaking directly to members about the importance of standing strong against the “imposed work rules” and the importance of electing a President who would stand with NATCA.

(Then-Senator Barack Obama Addresses NATCA members at their convention in 2008)

“President-elect Obama supported NATCA from the beginning in our long struggle for fair collective bargaining rights with the Federal Aviation Administration,” Patrick Forrey, then-President of NATCA wrote in a 2008 statement. “We were proud to support him and join with working men and women across the country to win this campaign.”

Shortly after taking office, President Obama directed the FAA to open negotiations with NATCA and resolve the three-year labor dispute. By the fall of 2009, NATCA and the FAA reached a tentative agreement that was ultimately ratified by the members.

In 2009, just after the agreement was ratified by the membership, NATCA President Forrey stated, “Today, the members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association overwhelmingly approved a collective bargaining agreement with the FAA. It is a testament to our membership that they have endured the worst time in our union’s history, working towards and holding out for a contract that was negotiated in a fair process and agreed to by the parties.”

“This would not have been possible without the support and commitment of the Obama Administration, key members of Congress and the AFL-CIO in providing a fair and transparent process,” Forrey said. “Now is the time to move forward and forge a working relationship that will stabilize the workforce, effectively train the large number of new hires and keep the current system safe and efficient while we transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation System.”



Just prior to reaching an agreement with the FAA, Paul Rinaldi was elected President of NATCA and Trish Gilbert was elected Executive Vice President.

“I’m honored that my NATCA brothers and sisters have chosen me to represent them and am equal to the task. Throughout my career, I’ve made it my mission to further the goals of this union and I’m not stopping now,” said Rinaldi.

NATCA's Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert

NATCA’s Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert

Trish Gilbert was very well known throughout NATCA. Over her 21-year career, Gilbert was the Facility Representative at the Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center, chaired NATCA’s National Legislative Committee from 2005-2009, chaired NATCA’s National Organizing Committee and was the NATCA Charitable Foundation’s Vice President, and then its President.

“I congratulate my colleague, friend and NATCA president-elect and am ready to work with him to move our organization to the next level,” said the newly elected Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert in 2009.

The new leadership team of Rinaldi & Gilbert faced both new and familiar challenges. For the three years prior to their taking office, the relationship between NATCA and the FAA was completely broken. Rinaldi and Gilbert led NATCA to a new era of mutual collaboration with the agency. They have made improving the working relationship between NATCA, the FAA and Department of Transportation a top priority. Efforts like the Air Traffic Safety Action Program (ATSAP), Professional Standards, and Partnership For Safety are a result of their focus on progress and safety. These processes have led to collaborative decisions on important issues involving airspace, procedures, technology, staffing and training while also raising NATCA’s leadership role and voice in the aviation industry.


Political Strife Results In NATCA’s Rise To Power In Washington

2013 would prove to be an especially difficult year for NATCA and its members, as NATCA began warning people about the possible effects the Sequester cuts could have on the National Airspace System and the flying public.

“Sequestration cut nearly $493 million from the FAA’s Operations budget, $142 million from its Facilities and Equipment budget, and $8.6 million from its Research, Engineering, and Development budget,” Rinaldi testified to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “These sequestration cuts were not the result of a research-driven strategy to increase safety and efficiency, but rather for the sole purpose of saving money.”

NATCA Stop the Furloughs“Today’s announcement from the FAA unfortunately confirms the concerns we have been warning about for months – sequestration will significantly and perhaps permanently undermine the capacity of the National Airspace System. The fact that they will not just be furloughing critical FAA personnel but closing air traffic control towers means the system will be even more compromised than anticipated,” said Rinaldi. “The National Air Traffic Controllers Association continues to urge the nation’s policy-makers to find a solution that prevents or mitigates the impact of sequestration in a way that does not diminish the world’s safest and most efficient national airspace system.”

As March 2013 approached, it became clear that the Sequester cuts were going to take effect, and they were going to be painful for the American public. NATCA produced its own report on exactly how the Sequestration cuts would affect the flying public, and explained how every air traffic controller would be forced to take between 11-22 furlough days – forced time off without pay – between March and the end of the fiscal year.

The forced furloughs would mean that at least 10% of the available controllers would be forced off without pay on any given day. The Department of Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, and NATCA warned that this would mean immediate and significant delays throughout the National Airspace System.

NATCA, under the strong leadership of Rinaldi and Gilbert, tried to overturn these disastrous cuts. NATCA worked with legislators from both sides of the political aisle to pass legislation to stop the controller furloughs.

Like many things in life, sometimes you have to lose something to realize how much you really needed it. This was the case with Congress as air traffic controllers were furloughed in April of 2013.

“After just two days of furloughs for air traffic controllers, more than 10,000 flights have been delayed and more than 600 canceled,” wrote the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. “This is no way to run the world’s safest, most efficient national airspace system. Controllers continue to do their best every day to keep the system running. It’s time policymakers show the same amount of effort and dedication.”

Within three days, a bill was put on the floor of the House to end the controller furloughs. Within one week the FAA Furlough Bill was signed into law and controllers returned to work. It clearly showed the importance of the air traffic system and the political might of NATCA.

“Thanks to the action taken this week in Congress, they will be able to return to work full time,” NATCA said. “We applaud the bipartisan nature of the votes and look forward to working closely with the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure the newly granted flexibility is exercised in a way that maintains our national airspace system’s status as the safest and most efficient in the world.”

As 2013 continued, it became more and more obvious that House and Senate were never going to agree on a federal budget. Without a budget the government was forced to shutdown on October 1st. NATCA President Rinaldi and Executive Vice President Gilbert worked with Congress and informed the public of the dire effects on the air traffic system if Congress did not act to end the government shutdown.

“It is unacceptable that thousands of our aviation safety professionals have been forced to stay home due to partisan posturing in Congress,” said Rinaldi. “I implore Congress to reach an agreement to end this shutdown, which is hurtful to our nation’s aviation system, our economy and the American people.”

Image From NATCA

Image From NATCA

15,000 air traffic controllers were forced to go into work without knowing if they would be paid for their work.

“There are grave repercussions as a result of the shutdown on all aspects of the system,” said Rinaldi. “There are real people suffering real consequences as a result of this shutdown. The only way to restore the aviation system to full staffing and speed is to end it right away. This is an increasingly difficult situation that will only worsen as it drags on. The shutdown must be stopped immediately.”

NATCA was not alone in the fight to protect the National Airspace System from the government shutdown. NATCA partnered with unions and aviation advocacy groups calling for an end to the government shutdown.

It took two full weeks before the political winds shifted and the government reopened. NATCA began to make a call for a more stable form of funding, to avoid these problems in the future.

“Sequestration, the shutdown and the uncertainty they have wrought have disrupted flight schedules, peeled away layers of safety redundancies and threatened our ability to maintain fully staffed and trained workforces,” NATCA wrote.

It is clear to see why Paul Rinaldi, Trish Gilbert, and NATCA are helping to shape policies that affect not only the National Airspace System but all of labor as a whole.

At the AFL-CIO 2013 Convention, Rinaldi was elected as a vice president of the labor federation’s Executive Council. Rinaldi also serves as a union representative on the FAA National Labor-Management Forum, a group whose formation was mandated by a presidential executive order to improve labor relations within the federal government.


Looking Forward

As Rinaldi and Gilbert begin their historic third term they are facing some significant and pressing political issues. With the Republicans regaining control of the Senate and retaining their control in the House, the attacks on federal workers have already begun.

NATCA continues to call for a more stable funding process, one that will not be affected by the shifting political winds. President Rinaldi testified before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation. Rinaldi delivered his remarks during a hearing about the upcoming Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization process and options for FAA air traffic control reform.

“NATCA looks forward to working with Congress and other stakeholders to determine a solution that protects air traffic control and secures it for future growth,” said Rinaldi.

Now the entire government is facing deeper cuts due to the Sequester beginning again in this October. This is compounded by the cuts proposed by the House and Senate budgets that would force workers to pay more for benefits, push workers into a new retirement system, hinder the FAA from continuing their modernization efforts and would put addition strain on the workforce.

“End sequester,” Rinaldi said. “It is not conducive to modernizing our system, running our day-to-day operations, and growing aviation, which is an economic engine. We need a predictable funding system so that we can enhance the NAS and continue to be the world leader.”

It will take strong leadership and strong political influence to overcome the issues facing NATCA in the near future. NATCA clearly has both.


President Obama To Address The Nation On Immigration, Republicans Threaten Shutdown

Image by Chuck Kennedy (Official White House photo) CC FLKR

Image by Chuck Kennedy (Official White House photo) CC FLKR

Today is the day that millions of aspiring Americans have been waiting for. The day when President Obama stands up to Congress and states clearly that if they will not do something to pass meaningful immigration reform then he will do what he can through executive orders.

It was announced last night that the President would make a prime-time address announcing his plans to stop the deportations of millions of aspiring Americans seeking citizenship. He will also stop the ripping apart of families, by stopping the deportation of the parents of children who are legal US Citizens.

A group of immigration lawyers from across the country sent a letter to President Obama citing his legal authority to defer deportations through executive actions.

“Our letter confirms that the administration has specific legal authority to use prosecutorial discretion as a tool for protecting an individual or group from deportation,” said Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar at Penn State Law. “This legal authority served as foundation for prosecutorial discretion policy across several administrations. Historically, this policy has been premised on the twin policy goals of managing limited resources and shielding people with compelling situations from removal.”

“This letter reflects a clear, broad, and informed consensus on two key points,” said Hiroshi Motomura, Susan Westerberg Prager Professor at UCLA School of Law. “First, the president has the legal authority, exercising his discretion as the nation’s top immigration prosecutor, to establish enforcement priorities. Second, the president’s lawful discretion includes the authority to set up an orderly system, modeled on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), for granting temporary relief from deportation.”

“It is well established that the President has the legal authority to end this crisis by granting temporary relief to a broad class of workers,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “It is also equally established that current enforcement of immigration law is at odds with our American vision of a just society and our values of family, hard work and fairness.”

President Obama’s Executive Order would protect nearly 5 million people currently residing in the United States.

Of course the Republicans were quick to respond to the announcement with more threats to harm real Americans if the President takes action without Congress.

“If ‘Emperor Obama’ ignores the American people and announces an amnesty plan that he himself has said over and over again exceeds his Constitutional authority, he will cement his legacy of lawlessness and ruin the chances for Congressional action on this issue — and many others,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

Senator Marco Rubio who once championed immigration reform in the Senate now is hints of a government shutdown if the President takes executive action on Immigration.

The Des Moines Register reported that Rep Steven King wants to tie executive action on immigration to funding the government.

“If the president wields his pen and commits that unconstitutional act to legalize millions, I think that becomes something that is nearly political nuclear …,” King said. “I think the public would be mobilized and galvanized and that changes the dynamic of any continuing resolution and how we might deal with that.”

King said if that happens, House-passed legislation on border security, including rolling back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, order, “becomes a requirement” for a continuing resolution.

Over the last six months conservative pundits has indicated that President Obama’s threat to defer action on deportations is unlawful and would warrant everything from a government shutdown to all out impeachment.

The irony of this is that Republicans have already forgotten that their hero, President Ronald Regan, took similar action to provide amnesty to over 3 million undocumented residents.

“The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) gave up to 3 million unauthorized immigrants a path to legalization if they had been “continuously” present in the U.S. since January 1, 1982 (The Hill).

The IRCA was not without issues, forcing the government to deport the immediate family members of those who were covered under the new order.

President George H.W. Bush followed up the IRCA with a “family fairness” policy that would close the loophole in the IRCA in turn protecting another 1.5 million aspiring Americans. The combination of the “family fairness” policy and President Reagan’s executive action provided amnesty to over 40% of the undocumented population living in the United States.

President Obama’s proposal to some seems extreme, however it would cover approximately 40% of the undocumented population currently residing in the United States.

The battle is set to begin tonight as President Obama lays out his plan to help millions of aspiring Americans.

The current government funding extension will expire on December 11th and we will have to wait to see if the Republicans will harm millions of Americans in their opposition to the President by completely shutting down the government.


Related Articles:

When Reagan and GHW Bush took bold executive action on immigration.

The American Immigration Council And The AFL-CIO Push For An Executive Order On Immigration

Obama’s Immigration Plan Could Shield Four Million

Rep Shea-Porter Votes For Omnibus Budget Bill Ending Threat Of Shutdown

Shea-Porter Supports Bipartisan Appropriations Bill to Invest in New Hampshire and Avert a Government Shutdown

Compromise spending bill would restore COLA funding for disabled veterans and alleviate some of sequestration’s reckless cuts to NH’s economy

Legislation includes key funding for PNSY, NH National Guard, Granite State Veterans, Seacoast Fishermen, LIHEAP, Head Start, Meals on Wheels, and First Responders

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3547, an omnibus appropriations bill to fund the government through Fiscal Year 2014. The legislation earned the support of Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) because it prevents another government shutdown and invests in New Hampshire’s economy and programs vital to the middle class.

“I think it’s shameful that this omnibus bill did not include emergency unemployment insurance and only partially restores the COLA adjustment for military retirees, but I voted for this bill because it’s a bipartisan compromise that invests in New Hampshire’s economy, keeps our post offices open, and reverses some of sequestration’s damaging cuts to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the New Hampshire National Guard, Head Start, Meals on Wheels, LIHEAP, and other vital programs,” Shea-Porter said.

“This legislation ensures that Congress won’t repeat another costly government shutdown, but it is far from perfect. It only repeals the 1% reduction in the annual military pension cost-of-living adjustment for disabled military retirees and their survivors because my amendment to fully repeal the cuts was not accepted by the Republican-controlled Rules Committee. However, this bill is a modest step down the long road towards growing our economy and governing responsibly,” Shea-Porter said.

H.R.3547 adheres to the compromise funding levels agreed to in Bipartisan Budget Act, legislation which passed in December. As mandated by the bipartisan budget agreement, it includes a total of $1.012 trillion in regular defense and non-defense discretionary funding.

This bill makes significant strategic investments in New Hampshire, and includes a number of measures championed by Shea-Porter. Highlights follow.


·         The compromise $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill would fund the government for the rest of fiscal year 2014, thus keeping the government open. The legislation passed the House of Representatives 359-67 earlier today, and the Senate is expected to vote on the bill tonight. President Obama urged swift passage of the legislation, which needs to be signed by January 18, 2014 in order to prevent another government shutdown.


·         The bill provides $11.5 million for new military construction at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The legislation also includes a strong mark in favor of submarine programs – fully funding the second 2014 Virginia class submarine, preserving funding for the Virginia Payload Module, and continuing development of the Ohio Replacement.  Congresswoman Shea-Porter and other members of the House New England delegation advocated for full funding of these submarine programs.


·         KC-46A Tanker:  The legislation appropriates $1.6 billion to fully fund continued development of the KC-46A air refueling tanker. Shea-Porter has strongly supported bringing the KC-46A to Pease. In the 110th Congress, she secured almost $9 million in funding to build a new facility for the WING Headquarters Operations and Training facility at the base. In the 111th Congress, she also secured $10 million to help the 157th Operations Group, which is responsible for the air refueling mission, consolidate its components into a single building, thus improving its command communications and overall efficiency of operations. In March, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter toured the Pease Air National Guard base to meet with Air Force and Air Guard leaders and show her continued support for Pease and the 157th Air Refueling Wing as the Air Force evaluated final candidates to receive the KC-46A tanker. Prior to that, Congresswoman Shea-Porter joined New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation in sending a letter to the Air Force Chief of Staff expressing support for the selection of Pease.

·         National Guard equipment procurement: The bill exceeds full funding for National Guard and Reserves equipment.


·         Veterans Backlog: The bill appropriates $320 million to deal with the claims backlog at the Veterans Administration. Shea-Porter has worked consistently to reduce the Veterans Administration’s (VA) disability claims backlog. In October, she voted in favor of bipartisan reforms to help reduce the backlog.

·         Veterans Homelessness: The bill fully funds the President’s request for $10,000 new veterans’ housing vouchers at $75 million.

·         PTSD Therapy: The bill contains Shea-Porter’s bipartisan amendment to provide $4 million in funding for an innovative dog-training therapy program that is a safe, effective, non-drug intervention to treat the symptoms of PTSD and TBI in returning service members. Shea-Porter championed the program along with Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ). The amendment was fully paid for.

·         Retired Military COLA: The omnibus appropriations legislation repeals the 1% reduction in the annual military pension cost-of-living adjustment for disabled military retirees and their survivors.  Yesterday, Shea-Porter offered an amendment to fully repeal reductions in the military retiree cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) that were included in the Bipartisan Budget Act.

·         TRICARE: The legislation includes $218 million increase for the TRICARE health insurance program for military personnel, military retirees and their dependents, to protect beneficiaries against increases in out-of-pocket costs. Shea-Porter included  language in the National Defense Authorization Act would help military families receive access to alternative physical therapies under the TRICARE program.

·         Wounded Warriors: The legislation includes $585.6 million for prosthetic research, which is $3.5 million above the 2013 enacted level.

·         Military Pay Raise: The agreement would fund a requested 1 percent pay raise for members of the Armed Forces and the DOD civilian workforce.

·         Defense and Small Business: Exceeds full funding by $175 million for the Defense Rapid Innovation Program to incorporate small business developments into Department of Defense programs.


·         Federal Emergency Management Agency: The bill allocates $6.2 billion for disaster relief – fully funding FEMA’s stated requirement. The bill also provides a total of $2.5 billion for first responder grants, $39 million above the fiscal year 2013 enacted level, including:

o   $1.5 billion for state and local grants,

o   $680 million for Assistance to Firefighter Grants, and

o   $350 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants.

o   Additionally, the bill includes a House amendment that delays certain premium increases in the National Flood Insurance Program.


·         TRIO: 95 percent of the sequestration cuts to TRIO were restored. Congresswoman Shea-Porter has been a leading advocate of investments in effective programs such as TRIO. In June, she led a group of 21 Representatives in sending a letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting that Federal TRIO Programs be protected from further cuts under sequestration in Fiscal Year 2014.

·         K-12 Funding: The $625 million increase in Title I funds over post-sequester funding levels will help support an additional 1 million students, and the $498 million increase over post-sequester funding for IDEA grants will cover the costs of an additional 6,000 special education staff.

·         Head Start: The bill restores the Head Start sequestration cuts and gives grantees a 1.3 percent cost-of-living increase.  Allows the Education Department and HHS to jointly administer a new $250 million competitive grant program for states to develop or expand high-quality preschool programs for low-income families.  In addition, the bill provides a $36 million boost to the Child Care Block Grant program for a total of $2.36 billion.

·         Pell Grants: The maximum annual award, which still must be confirmed by the Education Department and is based on inflation, is likely to rise by $85 to $5,730.


·         New Hampshire Rail: The bill restores funding for the Amtrak Downeaster passenger rail line that runs through New Hampshire’s Seacoast. Under previous appropriations bills, funding would have expired. By sending two letters to the Department of Transportation, Shea-Porter and the New England delegation worked toward restoration of the $6 million a year in Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funding that supports this critical regional infrastructure.

·         Highways: The bill includes a $557 million increase to Highway funding above the FY 2013 amount.


·         The legislation includes $3.425 billion in funding for LIHEAP, a $169 million increase over FY 2013 levels. As Granite Staters face another cold winter, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter has repeatedly called on Congress to increase funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). In April, she sent a bipartisan letter requesting that funding for LIHEAP be authorized at a level of $5.1 billion in FY2014.


·         The omnibus bill contains a $41 million increase for Meals on Wheels, a nutrition program for seniors. Shea-Porter has visited Meals on Wheels in New Hampshire and has spoken out about the fact that under sequestration, Meals on Wheels programs were forced to cut, on average, 364 meals per week and have increased their waiting lists on average by 58 seniors.


·         Disaster Relief: $75 million will be allocated toward fishery disaster, thanks to this legislation. Shea-Porter has been a vocal supporter of this program. In early 2013, Shea-Porter wrote to Speaker of the House John Boehner and cosponsored an amendment to reinstate disaster aid.


·         National Security Agency (NSA): Today’s Appropriations bill would require the National Security Agency to provide Congress the number of phone records collected and reviewed during the last five years, including an estimate of the number belonging to U.S. citizens. The agency would also have to provide an unclassified report describing all spy programs that collect bulk data, including the cost of the programs and what type of records are being collected or what kind of data the agency plans to collect in the future. Shea-Porter has been an outspoken critic of the dragnet collection of data by government agencies. She has called for increased transparency, oversight, and accountability over domestic surveillance.


·         Saturday Mail: The legislation forbids ending Saturday mail or closing rural post offices. Shea-Porter is a cosponsor of H.Res 30, which expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the Postal Service should maintain six-day delivery. She believes the US Postal Service is a vital resource for communities in New Hampshire and that eliminating Saturday mail delivery would hurt consumers and fail to adequately address the issues facing the United States Postal Service.

The bill shamefully does not include an extension of emergency unemployment compensation, an issue that Shea-Porter has repeatedly raised with Speaker Boehner and her colleagues. Today, Congresswoman Shea-Porter requested unanimous consent to end Republican’s refusal to allow a vote on extending emergency unemployment compensation.

“It is deeply disappointing that Republicans in Washington continue to block a vote to renew emergency unemployment compensation and help job-seekers in New Hampshire,” Shea-Porter said. “This is not the end of the line. I’ll continue to fight for a jobs bill and an extension of emergency unemployment insurance for those looking for work.”

The Rules change that could end gridlock in the US House

Record dysfunction in Congress: it’s NOT just the Senate, and NOT just the filibuster.

Republican extremists in the House have also been using parliamentary tricks to block legislation – including bills that had bipartisan support and would have passed if our elected Representatives were actually allowed to vote.

“The use of ‘closed rules’ has excluded most House members from full participation in the legislative process,” Rep. Louise Slaughter, ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee, wrote earlier this week.

“Under a closed rule, no amendments are allowed on the House floor. As a result, House Republicans are able to pursue a politically driven agenda without allowing commonsense amendments that could achieve bipartisan compromise.  This approach has also empowered the most extreme members of the House to pursue narrow policy goals at all costs.”

Like, say, the government shutdown.

“On Sept. 30 — the eve of the government shutdown — Republicans on the House Rules Committee changed the rule so only House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) could call up a Senate-passed clean funding bill — a bill that has the votes to pass the House and would end the shutdown, if it were given a vote.”

One man, standing in the way of a vote that impacts millions of Americans.  (Remind you of anything?  Such as: then-Senator Scott Brown single-handedly blocking an extension of unemployment benefits, back in 2010?  The Senate couldn’t vote until they added an extension of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy.)

This is what’s REALLY wrong with Congress:  our elected Representatives aren’t being allowed to vote on legislation that has bipartisan support.

GOP leadership is using the “closed rule” process to keep the House from passing legislation.  Last year was the most “closed” year in House history.  “In fact, the House GOP passed as many closed rules in a single week in October as during the entire last year of Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) speakership.”

The Senate is finally reforming the filibuster.

Isn’t it time for the House to reform the “closed rule” process?

Working Families Can’t Afford Another Shutdown Style Crisis (by Richard Trumka & Mark Mackenzie)

By Mark MacKenzie and Richard Trumka

NH AFL-CIO LogoLast month, we saw Washington at its worst. Driven by the Tea Party, Republican leaders, including Senator Ayotte, recklessly shut down our government and brought our nation to the brink of default. Ignoring voices of reason from working families across New Hampshire, some of our leaders in Congress listened to shouts of “shut it down” and inflicted unnecessary damage to our economy.

The shutdown cost 120,000 jobs in the first two weeks of October and will reduce economic growth by at least .25% in the fourth quarter. Here in New Hampshire it directly impacted 4,069 federal workers and countless residents who rely on federal services.

Thankfully, reason prevailed, Republican leaders relented and Congress appointed negotiators to work on a new budget agreement.

Now it’s on to the next fight in Washington.  But before we get caught up in another news cycle where extremists convince us we shouldn’t invest in our future, it is worth noting that a congressional budget is a vision. It is a blueprint that outlines our priorities as a nation. A good budget invests in America. It doesn’t rob our government of the resources it needs to succeed. A good budget properly funds its obligations and promotes the creation of well-paying jobs. It doesn’t bargain away protections for our seniors and it isn’t balanced on the backs of working families.

As Democrats and Republicans spend this month negotiating how to avoid another government shutdown, it is important to remind Washington politicians about what working families need.

The recovery is still being dragged down by the repeated budget crises manufactured by Republicans in Congress.  Budget austerity in the Tea Party Congress has already slowed annual economic growth by 0.7%, cost 1.2 million jobs, and increased the unemployment rate by 0.8%, according to Macroeconomic Advisers.

First, Congress should repeal the sequester it created, not replace it. The sequester’s dumb across-the-board cuts have hurt everything from education to child care to medical research. Here in New Hampshire, much attention has been given to the hardworking workers at our Shipyard and National Guard members who have faced furloughs as a result of defense cuts. But sequestration is also forcing layoffs and cutbacks to other critical programs that provide job training, education, and other services.

Repealing the sequester would generate 800,000 jobs by this time next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).  The next budget should undo this painful damage— and not replace it with other harmful cuts.

Most importantly, policymakers in Washington must reject proposals to cut Social Security, Medicaid, or Medicare benefits.  They should avoid deficit hysteria promoted by billionaires and the 1%. Instead of terrifying our parents and grandparents with threats to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits they’ve earned, politicians should protect these vital programs that have shielded the elderly and vulnerable from poverty for generations. Our nation’s safety net should be strengthened, not weakened, because working people need more economic security, not less.

Instead, Congress should look to raise new revenue by repealing the tax subsidies that encourage corporations to send jobs overseas and ending special tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.  When the average CEO’s salary for the first morning on the job is the same amount the average worker makes in a year, it’s clear that the wealthiest Americans and corporations making record profits can pay their fair share.

Ending these undeserved and wasteful tax breaks would allow us to invest in our workforce and create the well-paying jobs millions so desperately need. By rebuilding our infrastructure, education, and manufacturing base, we can create good jobs with good benefits and provide relief to our struggling working and middle class. This is America, after all.  No job should trap anyone in a vicious cycle of poverty.

By focusing on helping working families instead of how to score political points, Congress can produce a budget that supports an economy that works for all. It is time for Senator Ayotte to realize that instead of shutting down progress, she needs to listen to the needs of the hardworking voters who sent her to Washington.

Richard Trumka is President of the AFL-CIO. Mark MacKenzie is President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.

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