Anticipating the end of the U.S. government’s 2013 Fiscal Year on September 30, nearly a dozen aviation organizations sent a joint letter late last week to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders asking them to provide continued funding in FY2014 for the 149 contract air traffic control towers at risk of closure under sequestration cuts.
United States Senate Committee on Appropriations
A year after industry groups such as the Aerospace Industries Association started warning about the threatened U.S. government budget reductions known as “sequestration,” the White House has offered specifics about what the impact would be for the Department of Defense (DoD) and other federal agencies.
When 91-year-old Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) relinquished his chairmanship of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee late last year, the domino effect thrust Sen. John Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) into the chairmanship of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
General aviation groups pled-ged to work with the Obama Administration when it takes the reins of the federal government early next year, but in the days following the election there was much speculation about how things would shake out on Capitol Hill, in the Transportation Department and in the FAA.
• While Congress was on a five-week recess from August to September, the process for nominating presidential candidates (Senators John McCain and Barack Obama) took over the news headlines and focused attention on the coming election. As the campaign heated up and gathered steam, there were ever more promises as to what each candidate, if elected, would do by way of new programs and legislation.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), ranking Republican on the Senate aviation subcommittee, has also become the ranking minority member of the full Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation following the July 29 indictment of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) on corruption charges.
With the days before Congress’ summer vacation rapidly dwindling, the FAA funding conundrum continued last month. In late June, Congress bought itself three more months when it extended the agency’s current funding and programs until September 30. Lawmakers now have extended aviation funding and taxes five times since they initially expired on Sept. 30, 2007.
When Congress returned from its August recess, both houses set about to debate what to do about the declining budget surplus and what to do about spending.
Helicopter Association International (HAI) president Roy Resavage has written to members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to press for an amendment to the 2002 transportation appropriations bill that would help protect reliever airports in the Chicago area.
Observing the 107th Congress could sometimes be likened to watching a three-ring circus. There was the House of Representatives in one outside ring and the Senate on the other side, with the Administration or the White House in the center ring.
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