By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., who has said he can’t justify federal subsidies for Tupelo’s commercial air service, this week cast a vote against them.
Nunnelee on Tuesday voted for an amendment to a transportation spending bill that would have drastically reduced the federal Essential Air Service program that subsidizes Tupelo’s service.
The measure, sponsored by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., failed 238-164, with many GOP congressmen, including Tea Party-backed members, voting against it.
“We must cut spending so our economy can grow again,” Nunnelee, a Tupelo resident, said in a statement released by his office. “At a time when we are $15 trillion in debt and borrowing over 40 cents of every dollar we spend, tough choices have to be made.”
Nunnelee was the only member of the state’s U.S. House delegation to vote for cutting the subsidies. Fellow Republicans Steven Palazzo and Gregg Harper joined Democrat Bennie Thompson in voting down McClintock’s amendment.
Last year, Nunnelee voted against reauthorizing the program.
EAS subsidizes air service to 120 communities in 35 states in the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico, as well as 43 towns in Alaska.
In Mississippi, Tupelo, Greenville, Hattiesburg and Meridian receive EAS subsidies.
Under the proposed $107 billion transportation bill, EAS would see its budget increase to a record $214 million. McClintock’s amendment would have cut $114 in taxpayer subsidies.
Nunnelee has said in previous interviews with the Daily Journal that while he likes the convenience of flying out of Tupelo, he couldn’t justify subsidies to it or any other community.
“We’re living in a new era,” he said in 2011. “When we’re borrowing 42 cents out of every dollar, we’ve got to ask ourselves what can we do differently?”