House still pushing air traffic control spinoff plan

House still pushing air traffic control spinoff plan
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The House is still pushing a controversial overhaul of air traffic control after Congress cleared a short-term aviation bill last week.

The House Rules Committee officially reopened the amendment process on Tuesday for legislation that would separate air traffic control from the federal government, with amendments due by 3 p.m. on Thursday.

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told reporters Tuesday that the goal is to bring the measure to the floor in the next week or so.

The proposal, which previously struggled to win enough support in the House, is tucked into a broader bill that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for six years.

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“Congress just approved an FAA extension to fund the agency for six months, but our work is not done,” he said on the House floor earlier in the day. “We have a responsibility to pass a long-term FAA bill that ensures America remains the world leader in aviation, promotes American manufacturing jobs and improves air service for every American.”

But the House’s spinoff measure is divisive among lawmakers, with some Republicans concerned that the plan gives up congressional oversight of the nation’s air navigation system and others worried it gives too much power to the big airlines. The Senate has generally remained opposed to the idea.

With lawmakers unable to come to an agreement, and the FAA’s legal authority facing a Sept. 30 deadline, Congress ended up enacting a short-term patch.

But Shuster is hoping the momentum he has built for the spinoff proposal, which has the backing of President Trump, will help finally get the stalled measure over the finish line in the House.

Shuster and other supporters of the plan are expected to continue making a push for the plan this week, by talking to colleagues during vote series and delivering floor speeches aimed at debunking arguments against the spinoff model, according to one GOP aide.