Despite efforts to move House legislation that includes spinning off air traffic control (ATC) operations into a non-profit organization this month, no action will be taken until after Congress’ summer recess.
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House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster, (R-Pa.), told Fox News’ Chad Pergram Monday evening that the bill will not be considered on the House floor until September, when Congress returns from its five-week recess, and the same month that the legislation is set to expire.
“The end of September… the FAA bill is a must-pass bill— if it doesn’t get funded they’ll stop funding the FAA program, various programs. So we won’t let that happen. We will have to figure it out as we move forward.”
The bill could end up being attached to other legislation, such as a debt ceiling bill, or come to a temporary reauthorization lasting a few months—something Shuster hopes to avoid.
“At the end of the day you have to fund the FAA because you cannot shut down the airspace of the United State of America. It has too much of an impact on our economy,” he told Pergram.
Part of the reason for the delay in moving the bill, which has received bipartisan support, is due to the complicated process of moving thousands of people out of the government and into the non-profit organization, as well as educating fellow lawmakers on the matter.
“Whenever you try to do something with that many people it’s difficult to help people understand it,” Shuster said.
The push to spin off air traffic control operations from the Federal Aviation Administration comes as concerns over outdated technology and wasted spending grow. Taxpayers have spent billions of dollars over the course of more than 30 years funding the ATC system, Shuster told FOX Business in April, adding that “well over a billion dollars” have been spent on next-generation technology that was studied, but never put to use.
Currently, the FAA is still in the process of implementing its “NextGen” program, aimed at modernizing air traffic control operations, including the transition from 1950s-era ground-based radar to satellite (GPS) radar technology. This plan is expected to help reduce delays and provide controllers with a more accurate representation of where airplanes are in the sky. The FAA said its investment in NextGen improvements through 2030 is $20.6 billion, though its target date for completion is 2025.