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House proposes $4 billion funding cut for FAA
February 18, 2011
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  • Republican leaders of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee released their proposed FAA reauthorization bill on Friday. The legislation reduces the FAA’s funding to 2008 levels, which is consistent with the House’s broader effort to enact major budget cuts for all non-military federal agencies.

    A summary provided by the committee says the funding cut amounts to $4 billion over four years and requires the FAA Administrator to “identify significant cost savings without cutting any safety critical activities.” That would appear to protect air traffic controllers and aviation safety inspectors.

    But FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt told the committee this week that a cut to 2008 levels would slow down deployment of the long-delayed, satellite navigation system called NextGen. The agency is spending about $1 billion a year to implement the system through 2018.

    The Republican bill does not include some contentious elements that stalled the measure when Democrats ran the House. Gone is a controversial provision that would make it easier for FedEx workers to unionize. Gone is a proposal to require the FAA to inspect all certified foreign repair stations twice a year.

    But the legislation includes a proposal that won’t be acceptable in the Senate. The House bill seeks to kill the Essential Air Service program, which subsidizes service to more than 100 smaller airports around the country. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who has sponsored the Senate’s FAA bill, has vowed to fight any effort to wipe out the EAS program.

    Date: 2011-02-11