House Democrats are demanding a new cost estimate for President Trump’s proposal to separate air traffic control from the federal government.
In a letter to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), top Democrats on several committees asked for a new score of the spinoff plan after changes were made to the legislation following its approval from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
The privatization push has been formally endorsed by the White House but has not yet been brought to a floor vote in the House.
An initial CBO analysis estimated that the proposal would reduce the federal deficit by $20.7 billion over the next 10 years, because it would increase revenues by $70 billion but decrease mandatory spending by $90.7 billion.
But the version that the House Rules Committee has signaled would be considered in the full House has several major changes, which Democrats contend will add “tens of billions” to the bill’s cost.
That version of the legislation would cut $1 billion in contract authority funding for airport construction grants in the Airport Improvement Program and decrease revenue from aviation excise taxes by more than $15 billion, according to Democrats.
“In total, these changes to H.R. 2997, reflected in Rules Committee Print 115-25, likely add tens of billions of dollars to the cost of the legislation and, thus, the budget deficit,” the letter says.
“These changes were executed without any opportunity for us, as Ranking Members of the Committees of jurisdiction, to provide input or to debate the wisdom of the changes.”
The underlying proposal would transfer the country’s air navigation system to a nonprofit corporation at no charge, while the FAA would still maintain safety oversight of the nation’s airspace.
The private entity, which would be governed by a 13-member board of directors, would be funded through user fees instead of the excise taxes collected by the government.
The plan would remove 30,000 Federal Aviation Administration workers from the federal payroll, but current employees would still maintain their federal benefits.