Senators who decide how much to spend on the Federal Aviation Administration rejected Tuesday the Trump administration’s proposal to privatize air-traffic control.
The Senate Appropriations subcommittee for transportation and housing approved by voice vote a $60 billion bill, with $16.7 billion for FAA.
The senators joined their House counterparts in rejecting a proposal to move controllers from FAA to a non-profit corporation. But the decision isn’t final because the Senate and House must still debate and resolve their differences before spending decisions become final, months from now.
The air-traffic control proposal is a top priority for airlines, which want more predictable funding to modernize equipment and training faster, for more efficient flights. But opponents in the Senate and House spending committees, and among rural lawmakers, worry that the corporation will be controlled by airlines without public oversight through Congress.
“For aviation, the bill does not include the administration’s proposal to privatize the air-traffic control system, which appears to be a solution in search of a problem,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who heads the subcommittee.
The top-ranking Democrat on the panel, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, also criticized the proposal. He said the bill “also soundly rejects the short-sighted and counterproductive proposals that the administration’s budget requests, including the privatization of our air-traffic control system.”
FAA legislation expires Sept. 30, so a decision will be made about whether to change air traffic control or leave it alone.
The House FAA bill from the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which includes the control proposal, is ready for floor debate. A companion measure in the Senate transportation bill, which is also ready for floor debate, doesn’t call for privatization.