Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of Governor Bob McDonnell
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2012
Contact: Jeff Caldwell
Phone: (804) 225-4260
Email: Jeff.Caldwell@Governor.Virginia.Gov <mailto:Jeff.Caldwell@Governor.Virginia.Gov>
Statement of Governor Bob McDonnell on House Democrats Vote to Delay Filling Virginia’s MWAA Board Member Posts
RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement today in response to House of Delegates Democrats blocking emergency enactment of legislation allowing the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) to seat Virginia’s new board members and comply with federal law.
“Today, House Democrats voted to block enactment of emergency legislation that would have increased Virginia representation on the MWAA board, a body charged with overseeing the two largest airports in Virginia, the Dulles Access Road, the Dulles Toll Road and the Dulles Metrorail Extension project. The move today is contrary to federal law and delays the seating of our new representatives during a time when important project decisions are pending before MWAA. The decision to block the emergency clause in this legislation does not represent the best interests of the citizens, businesses, taxpayers and toll payers of Northern Virginia or the Commonwealth.
“This move deprives Virginia of its proper representation on the board while MWAA continues making important decisions regarding the management of the $6 billion Metrorail expansion in Northern Virginia. The intent of implementing this new legislation with an emergency clause was to bring MWAA into compliance with federal law as quickly as possible. Congress voted to reform the authority. The President signed the bill. Based on that bipartisan legislation, Virginia should have a greater number of seats on the board now. It is the responsibility of our legislature to implement those reforms as soon as practical. The delay caused by the actions of the House Democrats today will reduce Virginia’s rightful, and congressionally approved, influence on this vital board.”
On November 18, 2011, President Obama signed into law H.R. 2112, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011. In this bill were amendments to 49 U.S.C. § 49106, such as increasing the number of directors from 13 to 17. Two of these additional seats were provided to Virginia. The new law also prohibits board members from serving past the expiration of their terms. The language in the Conference Report to H.R. 2112 states that “the Conferees expect the jurisdictions to expeditiously implement these modifications.”
MWAA is a joint authority established pursuant to legislation enacted in Virginia and the District of Columbia. Federal law allows MWAA to lease Washington Reagan and Dulles Airports, as well as the Dulles Access Road, from the Federal Aviation Administration. The law authorizing the lease, the 1986 Transfer Act, specifically states that MWAA must be “consistent with” the requirements of 49 USC § 49106 as well as “at least meet the specifications” of that provision. Further, 49 U.S.C. § 49106 specifies the governance of MWAA and its board of directors.
The action by the House Democrats raises concerns about the current timetable for phase 2 of the Dulles Metrorail Extension project. For this reason, the major business and associated organizations in Virginia have joined in support of HB 252.