Melanie Zanona The Hill
Analysis: Air Traffic Control Plan Would Add $20B to Deficit
July 12, 2017
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  • A House push to separate air traffic control from the federal government would add $20.7 billion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

    The analysis, known as a score, could add a new wrinkle to the spinoff effort. Supporters are actively working to secure votes for the plan as House leaders prepare to bring the bill to the floor in the coming weeks.

    The CBO estimates that the legislation, which reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for six years, would increase revenues by $70 billion but decrease mandatory spending by $90.7 billion. Lawmakers could waive rules requiring the bill to account for any spending deficits, however.

    The 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 FAA workers from the federal payroll, but current employees would still maintain their federal benefits.

    The idea stalled last year amid opposition from both parties. The proposal passed through the House committee process this year, but has never been considered on the floor. And the Senate has remained opposed to the spinoff model.

    The proposal has received a formal endorsement from President Trump. The White House even dispatched a high-ranking official to Capitol Hill on Wednesday morning to sell skeptical House Republicans on the idea.

    But there is still some concern among lawmakers worried about small airports and general aviation users, according to lawmakers who attended the meeting.

    Outside general aviation groups have not signed onto the proposal, despite bill text changes designed to win their support. The new version exempts all general aviation users from any user fees imposed by the new entity and to ensure that the new board would have a diverse makeup.

    Lawmakers have until Monday to submit their suggestions for bill amendments.