ATC Privatization Vote Delayed

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The House bill sponsored by Republican Bill Shuster to privatize the U.S. air traffic management system failed to appear on the Congressional schedule for the week of Oct. 9—seemingly a surprise to the Pennsylvania congressman and Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, who had expected it to come to a vote next week. Shuster has been telling the Washington newspaper Politico that he expects a vote on H.R. 2997 “next week” for a month now, leading some in Congress to speculate that Republican leadership isn’t sure the bill could pass the House, much less the Senate. House Transportation Committee member Thomas Massie told Politico, “My theory would be there’s a lot of undecideds that, probably, if the vote were called on the floor, would vote ‘yes.’ But it’s probably a risk they don’t want to take. That’s my guess.” The House schedule has been busy with unplanned disaster relief bills, which may also explain the delay.

NetJets recently added their name to the list of Part 121 airlines supporting the bill. President Trump had been an outspoken proponent of the bill, which gained steam after a meeting between the president and airline CEOs at the White House, but the president’s support has been muted in recent weeks. Meanwhile, AOPA, NBAA and almost 200 additional groups representing general aviation interests continue to push back aggressively on the proposal. In a statement by the federation earlier this week, they wrote, “This proposed Board would ultimately control access to airports and airspace with a cursory safety review by DOT. Today, we can go to our congressional representatives if we have issues with air traffic control. Under HR 2997, we must go to court to have our grievances addressed and without proper congressional oversight this entity will go unchecked.”

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