Conservative groups slam GOP plan to spin off air traffic control

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A number of conservative groups are slamming a Republican proposal to separate the nation’s air traffic control system from the Federal Aviation Administration.

In a letter obtained by The Hill, the organizations, including Heritage Action for America, urged members of Congress to reject a long-term reauthorization of the FAA that contains language creating a new nongovernmental organization to take over air traffic control, primarily citing concerns over labor provisions in the measure.

{mosads}The legislation — which advanced out of committee in February but has not been brought to the floor — is being spearheaded by House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.).

“If enacted, this proposal would place immediate, severe limits on any opportunity for reform and reorganization of America’s air,” the groups wrote. “We urge the House to scrap Shuster’s dangerous union giveaway.”

The letter is signed by Heritage Action, the Center for Independent Employees, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Some of the “troubling provisions” that the groups highlighted include removing federal strike prohibitions for air traffic controllers and language supporting binding arbitration in labor disputes.

But with mounting resistance to privatization efforts in Shuster’s bill, the proposal appears unlikely to advance any further in the House this year.

Democrats, GOP appropriators and tax-writers alike have already expressed serious opposition to the legislation, saying the air traffic control spin-off would hand over the power to impose fees to a nongovernmental agency and remove air traffic control from congressional oversight through the appropriations process.

The Senate’s latest Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending bill includes report language indicating that the panel would bar any federal funding for separating air traffic control. The measure was approved by the full committee and is expected to be considered by the full chamber in the coming weeks.

“The attempt to remove the air traffic control system from the FAA is fraught with risk, could lead to uncontrollable cost increases to consumers, and could ultimately harm users of and operators in the system,” the report says.

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