Democrats Counter ATC Privatization Plan with a Bill of their Own

The House measure would seek to stabilize FAA funding for ATC modernization projects while overhauling the agency’s personnel and procurement policies.

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President Trump's push for ATC privatization now has a rival bill from democrats that want to keep the FAA in charge.The White House

While the White House and Republicans in Congress continue to push for the handover of air traffic control to a private nonprofit entity, Democrats on the House Transportation Committee have introduced their own measure to reform the agency that would focus on stabilizing FAA funding for ATC modernization projects without resorting to "corporatization."

The Aviation Funding Stability Act (H.R.2800) seeks to upgrade air traffic control technology faster while ensuring the FAA’s continued funding, all while keeping ATC under the purview of the federal agency that has run it for the past 80 years.

The Democratic bill would remove the Airport and Airway Trust Fund from the annual federal budget process so that ATC would no longer be subject to budget gridlock emanating from Washington. It would require revenues from ticket taxes to be spent on the aviation system.

The proposal also would order “top-to-bottom” reform of the agency’s personnel and procurement processes.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., the ranking member of the House Transportation Committee and lead sponsor of the legislation, said reasoned measures are needed to improve the FAA’s ability to implement NextGen modernization programs.

“If we truly want to fix the real problems facing the FAA today, the solution is simple: Congress can and should pass targeted reforms,” DeFazio said in a statement. “Reforms can achieve our common objectives without jeopardizing our nation’s outstanding aviation safety record. I urge my Republican colleagues to reject ATC privatization, and support our proposal for real, achievable modernization and reform.”

If the Democratic proposal sounds familiar, it's precisely what Flying magazine called on Congress to do in an editorial that first appeared in the May issue.