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Mon, Jun 16, 2003

Administration Threatens Veto Of FAA Funding Bill

Reason: It Would Prevent ATC Privatization

The White House is threatening to veto the FAA reauthorization bill because it would prohibit the FAA from privatizing air traffic control. The bill, approved by the US House of Representatives last week, includes language from Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN) that would prohibit outsourcing air traffic control to the private sector.

"If the final legislation includes provisions that would inappropriately prohibit the conversion of FAA facilities or functions from the federal government to the private sector, the President's senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill," according to a "statement of Administration policy" from the White House.

"The Administration's tough stance leaves nothing to the imagination of those of us in aviation who fear a privately run air traffic system — not to mention the airline control of such — and the fees that would go with privatization," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "It's clear what their agenda really is."

All This Fuss Over That?

"I don't understand why they would be willing to veto a $59 billion bill over just that language," said James Morhard, Democratic spokesman for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as reported by GovExec.com. "This suggests that they really are planning substantial changes to the air traffic system that they don't want us to forestall," he said.

That despite previous assurances from FAA, including a memo from Administrator Blakey to agency employees, that controllers aren't candidates for outsourcing.

"The Administration can protest all it wants that it has no plans to contract out air traffic control," said Boyer, "but the fact that they're willing to threaten a veto of a FAA spending bill that contains so many good things for aviation over this language makes clear their real intent. Privatized air traffic control and the user fees that go with it is one of the three biggest concerns among our 400,000 members."

FMI: www.aopa.org Statement Of Administration Policy

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