U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) and aviation subcommittee head Rick Larsen (D-Washington) introduced legislation today to shield FAA programs and personnel from future government shutdowns. The legislation, which comes in the wake of the historic 35-day shutdown and as the government faces the possibility of another funding lapse next week, would enable the FAA to continue to receive funding from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF) and continue operating at current funding levels in the event of another government shutdown.
Backed by 15 aviation groups, including business and general aviation organizations, the bill would ensure FAA programs continue uninterrupted and that FAA employees are paid. Funded through the aviation excise taxes—including the passenger ticket tax, fuel taxes, and cargo taxes—the AATF generates enough revenue to cover the FAA’s activities even if the general government funding should temporarily lapse.
“The U.S. aviation system is the safest, busiest, most complex aviation system in the world—a system that was seriously jeopardized by the absurd 35-day government shutdown,” DeFazio said. “This must not happen again. The users of the National Airspace System pay for the system and deserve for it to function without interruption.”
Larsen added, “Allowing the FAA to draw from the AATF during a funding lapse will ensure essential personnel who work under immensely stressful situations continue to get paid, and that the largest, busiest, and most complex airspace system in the world remains safe for passengers and employees.”