When it comes to H.R. 2997, the bill in the U.S. House that would remove the nation’s air traffic control system from the FAA and turn it over to the airlines and other commercial interests, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) is not ready to surrender despite growing opposition and skepticism on Capitol Hill.
As reported by Politico, Shuster said he still expects H.R. 2997 to be considered on the House floor, but he is unsure of timing. The House and Senate are currently focused on tax reform and the FAA’s authority to operate programs expires on March 31.
The Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Research Service, the Congressional Budget Office, the American Conservative Union, various retired astronauts, former U.S. Air Force Thunderbird and U.S. Navy Blue Angels pilots, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, and others all have expressed concerns about and opposition to H.R. 2997 in one form or another. Critics of the bill note that it would add $100 billion to the federal deficit, slow down air traffic modernization, and grant unconstitutional power to a private board to impose fees on passengers. There is also no innovation or competition associated with the proposal.
“More and more members of Congress are now beginning to understand that this proposal is simply a power grab by the airlines, and their constituents back home don’t want this. It will not reduce delays, nor will it speed up the modernization of our ATC system, which is already the largest, most complex, and safest system in the world," said AOPA President Mark Baker. "It’s not broken."
The legislation has been pulled several times because there is not enough support for the proposal. This on-again, off-again process has left many with fatigue over the issue and wondering when will it stop. Several senators also have suggested that there are not enough votes to pass the proposal in the Senate.
“We cannot rest until this proposal is behind us and then we can sit down, all work together, and develop a consensus among all the users of our aviation system to help create efficiencies, reduce costs, and continue the modernization effort going forward. In the meantime, we must continue to reach out to our elected representatives and make our voices heard loud, clear, and often,” Baker added.