It was only a few days ago when we reported that observers inside the Beltway were unsure if Bill Shuster’s Air Traffic Control (ATC) “privatization” plan would be able to pass out of the House and head to the Senate, where its future is far less certain. Now, as Politico has discovered, it turns out that it may not even make it to the floor for a vote. Proponents have been working overtime trying to whip up votes, but at this point the support simply doesn’t sound like it’s materializing.
House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster says he’s been whipping votes for his FAA bill as hard as he can over the past few days, but he doesn’t have much to show for it so far. Neither Majority Leader Kevin McCarthynor Minority Whip Steny Hoyer mentioned the legislation, H.R. 2997 (115), when they talked about next week’s schedule during their colloquy on Thursday. But McCarthy’s office has yet to release the formal floor schedule for next week, so there may still be hope for Shuster that the bill could be included.
It’s still possible that it could be added to the roster early this week, but if the House majority leadership was actually supporting it and thought they had the votes one would imagine they’d have mentioned it Thursday evening. (They’re still in need of some legislative wins in the House and tend to trumpet the ones they think are in the bag.)
What’s really strange is that the bill’s supporters now have the National Taxpayers Union supporting them, claiming that they will be scoring the vote on this measure. They’ve sent out a message saying that a Yes vote on the spinoff scheme, “will be considered the pro-taxpayer position.” That’s a rather curious position to take, which I’ll get to in a moment.
In the meantime, we seem to be seeing a push to just rush this plan out the door claiming that it will somehow be saving us money. Here’s what the formula for that looks so far, at least as near as I can tell.
- Rush through vote for massive reorganization which the CBO already said will drive up the deficit by tens of billions
- Turn over management of ATC to a bunch of lobbyists and union officials
- Something, something, something
Yes, in case you missed it previously, the CBO already scored the plan and concluded that we would be adding as much as $20B to the deficit in the short term. There are plenty of other details in that report which are worth a look as well, including two choice facts. First of all, this new “private” entity handling ATC would be funded through user fees (which they would control from the industry side) rather than federal excise taxes collected by Uncle Sam. And second, a deal was apparently cut with the public sector unions ensuring that even though as many as 30,000 FAA workers would be “removed from the federal payroll,” all of those currently employed workers will retain their federal, taxpayer funded benefits.
Tell me again how this is supposed to be saving us money? And for that matter, remind us all of why we need to turn over ATC to a commission selected by the industry’s main lobbying group and their unions?