With a six-month FAA authorization extension signed into law on September 29, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) took to the House floor today to continue his campaign to pass a long-term bill that includes his controversial air traffic control (ATC) reorganization proposal.
Shuster, saying he expected the bill to receive House consideration “in the coming days,” defended the ATC proposal as a “carefully drafted text” that has bipartisan support and backing of groups such as pilots, flight attendants and air traffic controller unions.
He expressed frustration with the opposition from the business and general aviation community, accusing opponents of spreading “false claims” about the bill. He stressed that every request that business and general aviation has made—short of scrapping the proposal altogether—had been included in the proposal, including an exemption from user fees, parity on the board that would manage the system and airspace protections.
He called the bill real reform that comes at “no cost or harm to business jets” yet will benefit an anticipated one billion passengers that are forecast to fly annually within 10 years. In fact, he added, “Everyone who flies commercially subsidizes business jets.”
Shuster also took aim at manufacturing, saying status quo will harm U.S. competitiveness and cost jobs.
His frustration comes as he has been trying to narrow the gap of votes to bring the bill to the floor. While calling it bipartisan, key Democrats remain opposed to the bill. Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-Oregon), the ranking Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told reporters late last week, “I will continue to follow Shuster around and talk to people at the ledge who get bad information and think that privatization is a good idea.” He noted that Shuster had not yet been able to get the votes and “the Senate has no interest in it.”