Shuster Amendment Defeated

May 20, 2011 Updated May 20, 2011 at 6:20 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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May 20, 2011 Updated May 20, 2011 at 6:20 PM EDT

WASHINGTON, DC ( WKBW / release ) Lawmakers are claiming victory families of the victims in the Crash of Flight 3407, as well as all air passengers in the U.S.

This comes Friday after an amendment proposed by Congressman Bill Shuster, that some say would have loosened air safety standards from the FAA reauthorization bill, has been pulled.

A spokesperson for the Flight 3407 Families issued a release noting that the Flight 3407 Families and WNY Congressional Delegation Win One for Safety, defeating the Shuster Amendment.

The release identifies the work of Schumer, Gillibrand, Slaughter, Higgins, and Reed.

Buffalo, New York- May 20, 2011 ( release)– With strong support from the Western New York congressional delegation, the 'Families of Continental Flight 3407' achieved a key legislative victory as Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) announced that he was withdrawing his controversial amendment to the FAA Reauthorization Bill, which would have significantly threatened numerous FAA safety initiatives as a result of the tragic crash of Continental Flight 3407 outside of Buffalo on February 12th, 2009.

"This is a special day for our group and for the memories of those who we lost," stated John Kausner of Clarence Center, New York, who lost his twenty-four year old daughter Elly. "We are thankful to so many who fought to make this possible, particularly our Western New York delegation, led by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, and Representatives Slaughter, Higgins, and Reed. They stood by our side right from the start, and sent a strong message to Congressman Shuster and those who supported him that it is not acceptable to put the airlines and their profits ahead of safety."

Shuster's provision, which sought to make it more difficult for the FAA to complete safety rulemakings by including additional cost-benefit analysis requirements, presented severe obstacles to safety in both the short-term and long-term. It was introduced as a result of industry objections to the FAA's proposed new pilot flight and duty guidelines, but also threatened other safety initiatives in progress at the FAA relating to training, safety management systems, and minimum pilot qualifications, as well as any future safety rulemakings.

"Our senators and representatives once again showed the industry that our group and our cause is not one to be taken lightly," added Lackawanna native Kevin Kuwik, who lost his girlfriend Lorin Maurer. "There are few members in Congress whose voice carry the weight of Senator Schumer's, and he has made his presence felt on our behalf over and over and over. Senator Gillibrand has provided us excellent counsel and support from the start as well. On the House side, Congresswoman Slaughter and Congressman Higgins have been relentless in their opposition from the moment this anti-safety legislation was introduced. And we are very grateful to Congressman Reed for working across the aisle and for his endorsement of our efforts during our meeting with Speaker Boehner last week."

The fight against the amendment centered on the importance of ensuring that the regulations drafted by the FAA as a result of last summer's landmark aviation safety legislation effectively reflected Congress's intent. The Shuster Amendment was part of an industry attempt to water down any subsequent safety regulations.

"This is an important victory, and it means that our fight to preserve the very important safety regulations to prevent another Flight 3407 will stand," stated Senator Schumer. "I will continue to remain vigilant against all future attempts to dilute the fine work of these families, and as long as they are with us I believe we will prevail."

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer released the following statement to Eyewitness News:

“This is a huge victory for the Flight 3407 families and all of those who are working to improve aviation safety. I am so proud to have stood side-by-side with the families on our long journey to turn a tragedy into landmark legislation, improvements in air travel safety, and safer skies across the country. Families, because of their strength, honesty, and integrity, always prevail. We have finally beaten back this short-sighted amendment that would have made it tougher to implement the new safety regulations that air passengers deserve. This is a great day, and I look forward to remaining vigilant and working with the 3407 Families to make sure that the new safety regulations become the law of the land for all sectors of the aviation industry.”

Schumer has worked with the families of the victims in the Continental Flight 3407 crash to significantly improve air travel safety in the wake of a crash investigation which determined that shockingly limited flying experience is required to be a co-pilot for a regional carrier. From the earliest days after the crash, Schumer and the families worked on legislation to close the gaps in airline safety that allowed this tragedy to occur and create one level of safety for all segments of the industry. Their efforts culminated in the passage of the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Extension Act last summer, which mandates new safety standards including increased training for pilots and stricter flight and duty time regulations to combat pilot fatigue. This law also requires that online vendors of airline tickets disclose, at first viewing, if the flight is operation by a regional carrier instead of a major carrier.

The amendment, authored by Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA), would have made it more difficult for the Federal Aviation Administration to implement tough pilot fatigue and other safety standards across the entire aviation industry. It would have placed additional burdens on the FAA as they draft regulations to improve flight safety by putting in place procedural hoops that add unnecessary complexity to the process of creating regulations. The amendment was attached to the House version of the FAA reauthorization bill by a narrow vote of just 215-209. Today, it was announced that the amendment will not be part of the final bill that emerges from the conference committee.

Statement from Congressman Brian Higgins on Reports that the Shuster Amendment Would Be Dropped From the FAA Bill

"This is welcome news for the Flight 3407 Families, Western New Yorkers and all Americans concerned with aviation safety. It means the reforms and safety improvements we fought so hard for last year will be implemented. Defeating this amendment was a bipartisan effort that I was proud to help lead. I will continue to be vigilant on this matter until we confirm that this damaging amendment is in fact ultimately and officially dropped from the bill and all of our aviation safety reforms are implemented in full."

The Shuster Amendment was adopted during House consideration of the FAA Authorization bill in April. It would have required a number of duplicative and difficult reviews before the aviation safety reforms Congress passed last year could be implemented. These reforms, signed into law last August, will improve pilot rest and training requirements, two major factors in the crash of Flight 3407 near Buffalo in February 2009.

Statement from Jane Corwin

WILLIAMSVILLE – Jane Corwin released the following statement today:

“I just received a call from Congressman Bill Shuster. He informed me that he asked Chairman of the House Transportation Committee John Mica to withdraw his amendment from consideration in the conference committee.

“The Flight 3407 Families have been a driving force to implement long-overdue aviation safety reforms. These actions are proof that a community can come together and make a difference.

“The fight to fully implement these much-needed reforms has just begun, and I will continue to work to implement ‘one level of safety’ in our skies.”

Statement from John Kausner, who lost his 24-year old daughter Ellyce in the Flight 3407 tragedy:

"We are very pleased to hear that the Shuster provision has been dropped from the FAA Reauthorization Bill.

"We are very appreciative of Jane Corwin for supporting us and arranging the meeting with Speaker Boehner, and to the Speaker for hearing us out on the significant safety issues associated with the provision, especially with regards to the objections to it by the NTSB and FAA.

"We also would be remiss if we did not thank the entire Western New York congressional delegation and everyone else in Congress who came out against this provision and supported us from the get-go.

"We must remain vigilant as we move forward to ensure that the FAA is allowed to effectively implement the bipartisan aviation safety legislation from last Congress."