The full U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee tomorrow is set to consider a Fiscal Year 2018 transportation budget bill that would provide a $500 million boost to the FAA’s annual budget and block the Trump Administration from creating an independent organization to run the nation’s air traffic control. Appropriations Committee consideration follows approval of the FY2018 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill by the THUD subcommittee yesterday.
“This bipartisan bill is the product of considerable negotiation and compromise, and makes the necessary investments in our nation’s infrastructure,” said THUD chairman Susan Collins (R-Maine). THUD ranking Democrat Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) agreed the bill makes “smart transportation investments,” but also praised it for “block[ing] bad policy by barring the Trump Administration from pursuing an unwise scheme to privatize our air traffic control system.” Collins added, “Our bill strikes the right balance between thoughtful investment and fiscal restraint, thereby setting the stage for future economic growth.”
According to the committee, the bill would provide $16.97 billion in budgetary resources, amounting $563 million in additional funding over the current fiscal year. This includes $1.1 billion for NextGen investments and full funding for the contract tower program, Senate appropriators said.
The rejection of the ATC reform efforts underscores the uphill battle the independent ATC organization proposal faces should it get through the House. The FAA reauthorization bill that contains the ATC proposal has yet to be scheduled for a vote, making it likely it will slide into September. However, the bill’s chief architect, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania), has continued to hold out hope that he can push through the reauthorization bill, and told the Washington insider publication Politico that he was encouraged by the growing number of members who have agreed to vote in favor of the measure, saying ATC reform backers are gaining more support every day.