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House Appropriators Voice Opposition To Privatized ATC Funded With User Fees

NBAA Praises Letter From House Appropriations Committee Leadership To Speaker, Minority Leader, Others

A bipartisan letter from House appropriators has been sent to the leaders of both parties in the full House which expresses the legislators’ opposition to plans under consideration for creating a privatized air traffic control (ATC) system funded with user fees.

The letter, sent Feb. 1, was addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-1-WI), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-12-CA), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-23-CA) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-5-MD).

The letter was signed by House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-5-KY) and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-17-NY), as well as Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Subcommittee Chair Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-FL), and Subcommittee Ranking Member David Price (D-4-NC).

"We do not believe that creating a separate air traffic entity, removed from congressional oversight, will advance efforts to modernize air traffic control," the letter states. "The Committee on Appropriations has a proven record of providing robust funding to advance air traffic technologies in the national interest. While FAA can and should improve and accelerate the development of modernized air traffic systems, we do not believe the solution is less oversight and less accountability.

"Further, we have concerns about any proposal that would transfer all decisions on financial investments and fees - on airlines and the public - to an independent entity that is not accountable to the people we serve," the appropriators wrote.

The message from the appropriations leaders comes as Congress is debating reauthorization of the FAA.

NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen (pictured) welcomed the letter. NBAA and its members have long opposed proposals for the creation of a privatized ATC system funded by user fees, which are being pushed by all but one of the big airlines. The association has repeatedly voiced its opposition to such proposals amidst the current FAA reauthorization debate, including in testimony before Congress.

Bolen said the letter is “an important statement from House lawmakers, who understand the importance of aviation to the nation’s economy and transportation system, and have reflected that priority by continually funding the system, even in the midst of a number of challenges in recent decades.”

The House appropriators’ letter comes on the heels of a similar, bipartisan one sent on Jan. 28 by Senate Appropriations Committee leaders to their colleagues on the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which will be the Senate committee charged with writing legislation for FAA reauthorization. Bolen welcomed that letter as well.

(Source: NBAA news release)

FMI: Full Letter Text

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