4:59 PM EST

Jerry Costello, D-IL 12th

Mr. COSTELLO. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the subcommittee chairman, Mr. Mica. I would like to thank Chairman Young, Mr. Oberstar, Mr. Mica, for joining me in introducing H.R. 5076, the National Transportation Safety Board Reauthorization Act of 2006.

The NTSB makes safety recommendations to Federal, State and local government agencies and to the transportation industry regarding actions and recommendations that should be taken to prevent accidents and improve safety.

Since its inception in 1967, the NTSB has issued almost 12,000 safety recommendations in all modes of transportation. The regulatory and transportation communities have accepted over 82 percent of these recommendations.

This is significant, given the size of this agency: only 396 employees and 10 regional offices.

The NTSB's recommendations and its vigilance on safety issues result in improvements in the way we conduct the business of transportation in all modes of transportation.

Transportation accidents are increasingly complex, and the NTSB maintains the highly qualified technical staff and necessary tools to efficiently produce thorough and unbiased investigations and recommendations for the public and policymakers.

I am pleased the reauthorization bill before us today authorizes $1.7 million more than the NTSB's current budget request for fiscal year 2007, which will allow for 11 more investigators to be hired by the agency.

To maintain its position as the preeminent transportation investigative agency, the NTSB must have the resources necessary to handle increasingly complex accident investigations, as well as to adequately train its staff.

Reauthorization is essential to ensuring this agency has the necessary resources to conduct thorough safety investigations, and I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 5076.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

5:01 PM EST

John Mica, R-FL 7th

Mr. MICA. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield as much time as he may wish to consume to the chairman of the full Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the distinguished gentleman from Alaska (Mr. Young).

5:01 PM EST

Don Young, R-AK

Mr. YOUNG of Alaska. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for the work he has done on this legislation, and the ranking member on the other side of the aisle.

This is a good piece of legislation. It should be passed. I urge my colleagues to support it. It has been fairly vetted, and I am confident that with the passage of this and on the President's desk, we will do the job to make sure that not only are the flying industry safe, but all other forms of transportation are safe.

5:02 PM EST

Peter A. DeFazio, D-OR 4th

Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, this is a very important agency of the Federal Government in terms of consumer health and safety: the National Transportation Safety Board. And one of the things for a number of years that has concerned me about the National Transportation Safety Board is they approach issues of public safety from a fairly pure standpoint in terms of what is needed to better protect the traveling public and to prevent loss of life. And unfortunately, when it gets over to the

agencies of jurisdiction, particularly the FAA, they have put a value on your life. Now, I once asked an FAA individual, I said, so what do you think your life is worth? And the particular value at that time I think was around $200,000 per life, or soul as they call it. I said, don't you think you are worth more than that? At that point

we were arguing about moving seats further apart so people could access the over-wing exits. And the airlines were complaining about the revenue that would be lost. It took, actually, 8 years after a tragic accident, with people stacked up like cord wood in Manchester, England, to get that rule passed here. The Brits did it in 6 months.

So often the NTSB recommends what they see as needed changes to protect safety, and all too often those things are ignored. They disappear in the black hole over there at the FAA. This bill will change that. [Page: H8834]

The most wanted transportation safety improvements, which are available and published on an annual basis by the NTSB in all modes of transportation, are now going to have to be responded to by the FAA. Within 90 days of the date of enactment of this bill, we will get a report which will explain why they have not implemented these most wanted regulations here to better protect the traveling public. This will be an improvement. It will now at least require meaningful response from the agency, and

perhaps move us forward in better protecting life and safety.