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House transportation chair will not seek re-election
House transportation chair will not seek re-election Rep. Bill
Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and
Infrastructure Committee, announced Tuesday that he will not seek
re-election. Shuster proposed privatizing the national air traffic
control system -- a bid that is opposed by general aviation advocates.
The Washington Post
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), the chairman of the House Transportation
and Infrastructure Committee, said Tuesday that he will not seek
reelection, ending his congressional career after nine terms.
Had he returned next year, Shuster would have lost his committee gavel
because of House GOP rules that impose a three-term limit for
chairmen. He joins three other outgoing House chairmen who have chosen
to retire rather than return to the House without a gavel: Bob
Goodlatte (R-Va.) of the Judiciary Committee, Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.)
of the Financial Services Committee and Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) of the
Science, Space and Technology Committee.
Trump has embraced one of Shuster’s pet proposals: privatizing the
national air traffic control network — a proposal that is supported by
major airlines but opposed by many small-scale aviators and consumer
Trump plans week-long focus on infrastructure, starting with
privatizing air traffic control
By John Wagner June 3, 2017
President Trump will seek to put a spotlight on his vows to privatize
the nation’s air traffic control system and spur $1 trillion in new
investment in roads, waterways and other infrastructure with a
week-long series of events starting Monday at the White House.
The president has invited executives from major airlines to join him
as he kicks off the week with one of his more controversial plans:
spinning off the air traffic control functions of the Federal Aviation
Administration to a nonprofit corporation.
It’s an idea that has been tried many times before, dating back to the
Clinton administration and, most recently, last year in legislation
championed by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House
Transportation Committee. His bill never made it to the Senate, where
several key GOP members resisted the idea of transferring government
assets to a corporation.
In a conference call with reporters, Trump administration officials
acknowledged the timing of their broader infrastructure package
remains up in the air but said that Congress could take action more
immediately on a separate bill divorcing air traffic control functions
from the FAA.
For months now, Cohn has been making presentations to interested
parties, arguing the benefits of moving to a new GPS-based system.
Among other things, he says, GPS will help pilots fly more direct
routes, cutting down both flight times and fuel usage.
Aides say Trump’s proposal will be largely based on Shuster’s
legislation. The White House previously called his bill “an excellent
starting point” for separating more than 30,000 FAA workers from the
government — about 14,000 air traffic controllers and more than 16,000
who are working on the FAA’s current modernization program.
Instead of current taxes on fuel and airline tickets, Shuster’s plan
would rely on fees paid by aircraft operators. The FAA would retain
its role as an oversight agency, much like the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration, which issues auto regulations and
recalls faulty vehicles.
Although Shuster’s bill emerged from his committee last year, it never
got a vote on the House floor. In the Senate, reaction was lukewarm
among some key Republicans.
Some opponents cited concerns about the transition period to a new
system, as well as legal difficulties of transferring the FAA’s assets
to a nonprofit corporation. Others questioned whether privatization
would save money, and argued that it could drive up airline ticket
costs and pose national security risks.
Another large point of contention has been the makeup of a board that
would oversee the nonprofit corporation.
The move to a corporation has been tentatively endorsed by the
National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which has argued that
spinning off controllers into a private entity would protect them from
the threat of government shutdowns and uncertain federal funding.
Meanwhile, other trade groups, including the National Business
Aviation Association and the General Aviation Manufacturers
Association, have said that private air traffic management would give
large airlines too much control and threaten private aviation in
In the call with reporters, Cohn pledged that in Trump’s plan “there
is money to make sure that rural airports get protected.”
A union representing FAA technical workers has also said it “extremely
concerned” about spinning off air traffic control functions.
“Privatizing the air traffic control system is a risky and unnecessary
step,” Mike Perrone, president of the Professional Aviation Safety
Specialists, said in a statement in March after Trump signaled
interest in moving in that direction.
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