May 12 2021
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and John Cornyn (R-TX) sent a letter to Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH), Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, requesting that the Committee favorably report the Air America Act of 2021 (S. 407) to the full Senate as soon as possible. Senators Warner and Rubio reintroduced the legislation on February 24, 2021.
Air America, a government-owned corporation, employed several hundred U.S. citizens, mainly flight crew members, until 1976. During its existence, approximately 286 Air Americans were killed in the line of duty while conducting covert operations in designated war zones. In 1975, the last helicopter mission that rescued personnel from the rooftops in Saigon was planned and executed by Air America and the United States Marine Corps. This legislation would ensure that these individuals receive the benefits they are owed under the Civil Service Retirement System.
“The fight to ensure Air America employees receive the benefits they have earned is not a partisan issue, nor is it a new issue,” wrote the Senators. “It is time for Congress to act.”
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Chairman Peters and Ranking Member Portman:
We respectfully request that the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs consider and report S. 407, the Air America Act of 2021, to the full Senate as soon as possible.
The bill, which was first introduced last Congress, would ensure the brave employees of Air America receive the retirement benefits they have earned. As you may be aware, Air America was a government-owned corporation that conducted covert operations during the Cold War, Korean War, and Vietnam War and operated under the direct policy control of the White House, Department of Defense, and the Department of State while under the management of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
The fight to ensure Air America employees receive the benefits they have earned is not a partisan issue, nor is it a new issue. Legislation to provide benefits to Air America employees was first introduced by then Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in 2005. The bill currently has 29 bipartisan cosponsors, including five members of your committee from both sides of the aisle. Over the last 16 years, the Office of Personnel Management, the Merit Systems Protection Board, the CIA and the Director of National Intelligence have all concluded that Congressional action is required. It is time for Congress to act.
For these reasons, we respectfully urge you to consider and report to the full Senate this important bill as soon as possible.