Still Deal-Making For FAA Bill

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The battle over the FAA Reauthorization Bill's privatization language has reached a sort of desperate deal-making stage but there's no guarantee the latest gambit will work. A week after the White House refused to endorse a one-year moratorium on air traffic control privatization, a bipartisan group of senators has asked FAA Administrator Marion Blakey to put a similar guarantee in writing. Senate Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Trent Lott (R-Miss.) joined Commerce Committee Chair John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Democrats Jay Rockefeller, of West Virginia, Byron Dorgon, of North Dakota, and Fritz Hollings, of South Carolina, in signing the request letter. Conspicuously absent was Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), whose anti-privatization amendment on the original bill helped create the current stalemate. A Lautenberg spokesman said the senator is waiting to see Blakey's reaction and, if she agrees, he'll help write the language into the bill. Meanwhile the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) is concerned about the future of the bill. "To have the measure halted because of politics when so much is at stake is truly remarkable," said NATA President James Coyne. In turn, House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) urged NATA to encourage members to contact their senators to urge them to pass the measure. The House passed the bill by a narrow margin two weeks ago.