...Two-Class Safety System Alleged...

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Naturally, privatization opponents are livid with the deal, saying it shows the true attitude of the Republican leadership toward air safety. "[This] tells our citizens that their safety is a political issue," Carr said in a conference call with reporters. "It's about trading towers for votes. If you live in a nice Republican community, you get an FAA tower, if you live in a Democrat community you get a contract tower." Carr said this "two-class system of safety" won't fly with the American public and the union is battling it strenuously. Gary Burns, a spokesman for Mica, told AVweb the issue is holding up the bill and all the benefits it will bring to aviation and there has to be some resolution to the impasse. Burns said the towers-for-votes deal is just one of several options being considered to get the bill through. He declined to elaborate on the other plans. "Some of these discussions we are having are evolving," he said. He also defended the partisan nature of the towers proposal, saying the Democrats have their minds made up on the issue. "We have to talk to people who are willing to take part in the process," Burns said. And, according to Burns, the lobbying and deal-making is having its effect. Mica said he already has the votes he needs in the House and Burns said the issue turns on a very few senators' positions. "We are very, very close," he said. Originally, 11 Republican senators voted in favor of the bill with the anti-privatization language.