By Matthew Jaffe
February 8, 2011
A lot of Americans would like to see improvements to the nation’s air travel system. Unfortunately for them, waiting for Congress to do something about it could take a while – in fact, it already has.
The $35 billion Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill has been languishing for years.
“We’ve been trying for years – years! – to get this bill passed,” gasped Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the chamber floor Tuesday.
The bill would help streamline the implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System – known as NextGen – a nationwide project designed to change the country’s system from a ground-based one to a satellite-based one using GPS technology. The program, the 2004 brainchild of former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, would improve aviation safety and capacity, save airlines money, and cut down on delays and pollution, according to proponents.
According to Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, the delays and cancellations that drive travelers crazy could be scaled back.
“This FAA bill will help to change all of that, updating air traffic control systems to include state of the art GPS technology that will reduce maddening flight delays by over twenty percent,” Schumer said.
But the bill has been stuck for years. And this year the Senate has already spent weeks debating it, with nothing to show for it other than a slew of amendments. Democrats have even touted it as the “first jobs bill” of the new Congress, saying it would save or create an estimated 280,000 jobs. Still, no progress yet.
“We’re not going to be playing around with this for another year,” Reid warned on the Senate floor Tuesday.
Maybe so, but for a bill that supposedly has bipartisan support, it sure hasn’t made much headway yet.
Source: ABC NEWS