...Amid Fighting Words From Transportation Secretary

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The administration appears ready to flex its authority in the face of a stubborn Congress over the issue. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta recently wrote to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert threatening to furlough some FAA employees and freeze some airport construction projects if the bill isn't passed by the end of the month. NATCA is furious about the threat, saying funding authority can be extended by Congress beyond the expiration date of the current legislation. "This is scare tactics 101," said Church. Church said that as far as he knows, with just two weeks left before the theoretical deadline, a vote has not yet been scheduled. That suggests that the administration and the Republican leadership know they don't have the votes to carry the bill with the privatization language intact. AOPA has also reported that at least one unnamed senator has promised to filibuster the bill if it does make it to the floor in its present form. Mineta said in his letter that if the bill doesn't pass intact, "the President's senior advisers would recommend he veto the final bill." NATCA Executive Vice President Ruth Marlin is on C-SPAN at 9:30 a.m. Eastern today explaining the controllers' side of the story.