...But Funding Is Under Threat

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But while the Department of Transportation is busily planning for the future, the folks at the White House are worrying about today's bottom line. In a proposal due next Monday, the Bush administration will propose a 16-percent cut in spending on air-traffic-control equipment and facilities, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. The $471 million cut would affect the FAA's $2.9 billion facilities and equipment budget for fiscal year 2005, which begins October 1 of this year. The cuts would mean postponing or scaling back projects aimed at making air travel more efficient. The FAA is under pressure to rein in spending, which has expanded 70 percent since 1996 to $14 billion this year. The increase has been fueled at least in part by the agency's "lack of basic contract oversight," the Department of Transportation's inspector general told Congress in October.