It’s edge-of-our seats time in Congress, as legislation on several key aviation proposals makes its way toward the President’s desk for his signature. The Pilot’s Bill of Rights still needs to be reconciled between House and Senate versions, and the resulting bill might contain the very good news of medication certification reform and the very bad news of a privatized ATC.
Pennsylvania Representative Bill Shuster, who’s dating an airline lobbyist, continues to passionately pursue his proposal to privatize ATC, a move that almost no one but Shuster, and the airlines, wants to happen. Still, if privatization somehow gets into the reconciled bill, all bets are off on whether it would get passed or whether President Obama would sign it.
While the president has supported user fees in the past, the privatization plan would essentially give away the air traffic control system to a private nonprofit entity that would be controlled by the airlines. Because the president doesn’t have line-item veto power, he’d have to either veto the entire bill or allow the entire bill into law, including the privatization language.
No timetable yet on when the House will move forward on a final bill that mostly will mirror the Senate’s, but it’s nearly a sure thing it will happen soon. Whether the House’s version contains ATC privatization language or not remains to be seen.
That new battle, between pro and anti-privatization sides, is only now getting underway.