Down To The Wire

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Compromise Offered On Contract Towers...

Politics and airplanes may both be about the art of compromise but opponents to expansion of the contract tower program say a White House olive branch is covered in thorns. Rep. Peter DeFazio and Rep. James Oberstar have written their colleagues urging them to turn down the administration's proposal to drop a clause in the FAA Reauthorization Bill that allows the privatization of 69 FAA-run towers. The problem is, that section also guarantees that the other 94 percent of the air traffic control system will stay in government hands through the four-year term of the bill. "This change would not solve the problems that have been raised," the letter reads. The bill has been stalled on the privatization issue since Congress resumed sitting after Labor Day. The FAA's current funding legislation runs out Sept. 30. The White House had earlier threatened a veto if the privatization language was dropped and the FAA has warned that furloughs will be issued and airport projects halted if the money tap is turned off on Tuesday. Oberstar and DeFazio say a short-term funding extension could be granted, if necessary, so that "an acceptable reauthorization bill can be passed."