Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Minnesota Democratic Congressman James Oberstar, Chairman of the House's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, became one of at least 60 victims of last night's Republican sweep of the House. Oberstar, who is completing his 18th term in Congress, has been Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee since 2007.
In a period when Washington's attention was turned toward two foreign wars, a global financial crisis, and health care reform, Oberstar had the opening to radically retune U.S. air transport policy in an illiberal key. For example, in 2008 Oberstar introduced legislation to sunset the Department of Transportation's grants of antitrust immunity to international airline alliances and tighten federal rules which limit the right of foreign nationals to own and control U.S. air carriers. More recently, the soon-to-be-former Chairman publicly criticized the Justice Department's approval of the United/Continental merger and stated that the U.S. needs to rethink its antitrust policy toward the airlines. Thankfully, despite the rhetoric, none of Oberstar's protectionist policy prescriptions came to pass.
Blog readers interested in reviewing some of our more pointed critiques of Oberstar's aviation policy agenda can consult the following in the archives: