Schumer: ‘A Gun Held’ To Our Heads by GOP Over FAA Funding

By Nicholas Ballasy | August 3, 2011 | 3:24 PM EDT

( – Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) accused House Republicans of “hostage taking” for not passing a “clean” short-term extension to fund the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with no cuts, comparing the situation to “a gun held” by the GOP to the heads of Democrats.

“The issue is not essential air service. It’s not even a labor issue. It’s the issue of hostage taking. It’s as if someone puts a gun to your head and says ‘give me your money’ and then you say, ‘why won’t you give them their money?’ You leave out the whole context that there’s being a gun held to your head and that is not fair and that is not right and yet and Harry [Reid] is right, we keep getting that situation,” he told reporters on Wednesday during a press conference at the Capitol.

“Well, the issue that is we are here today about is you cannot run government – because the other side, our side can do it too; we can each say we will hurt innocent people to get our complete way instead of sitting down and negotiating as the founding fathers intended this government to be. And for the media to say that, ‘oh, we’re ignoring the gun held to your head now, why don’t you give into them [Republicans] and let the thing go’ is just not fair and not right and not even handed.”

Schumer also said, “Time and time again, the GOP has blocked a clean short-term extension of the FAA until a longer term bill can be passed and they have refused to negotiate. Under the cover of the debt ceiling crisis that they manufactured, they have set in motion a second crisis and once again are holding the livelihoods of Americans hostage until they get everything they want.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., accompanied by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said the GOP has been running a “government by threats.”

“Whatever the issue is, this is about government by threats, government by one side making their demands and our leader is saying, ‘okay, let’s sit down and negotiate something on whatever the set of issues might be,” she said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid followed her remarks saying, “And Barbara, and these folks falling for it,” which was greeted by shouting from the press in the room.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) has “taken us hostage” for blocking a “clean” short-term bill to fund the FAA.

“I do not understand why your anger and angst is not directed at one individual, Mr. Mica, who says he’s doing this to save America taxpayers money. He has already cost American taxpayers more than the entire EAS will cost for an entire year. Why? Because he has taken us hostage,” said Hoyer.

“They are absolutely right. Why are you not angry? Why is the American public not properly, as I think they will, directing their anger at somebody who would – to save $210 million – cost over $1 billion just over a month of this kind of hostage taking.”

In a statement released on Monday, Mica said, “After waiting weeks and doing nothing but complaining about the process and blaming everyone but themselves, Senate Democrat leaders failed again today on a last-ditch effort to approve an extension of FAA programs.”

He also said, "Apparently, protecting outrageous airline ticket subsidies is more important than putting 4,000 furloughed FAA employees and thousands of airport construction workers across the country back to work."