Aviation groups push bill that would fund FAA during shutdown

A coalition of aviation trade associations and labor groups on Tuesday urged Congress to pass legislation that would allow the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to access funding in the event of a federal government shutdown.

In a letter to leaders of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, representatives of 40 groups voiced their "strong support" for the Aviation Funding Stability Act of 2019, which would enable the FAA to draw from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF) during a funding lapse.

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The letter notes that, during the recent 35-day federal government shutdown, air traffic controllers and aviation professionals were either furloughed or worked without pay.

"Jobs and economic growth in the industry were threatened as manufacturers, airlines and other operators, and small businesses faced disruption. The effect on the nation’s air transportation system and the workers charged with keeping the system safe was dramatic," the letter reads.

"We find this situation to be unacceptable and we want to work with Congress and the Administration to prevent this from ever happening again," the letter continues. "The legislation is designed to provide a limited, targeted way of ensuring stability for the aviation system and it does not change congressional direction or oversight in any way."

At the height of the government shutdown, union leaders expressed concern that flying had become less safe because employees were furloughed or working without pay.

According to the letter, the AATF currently has an uncommitted balance of more than $6 billion. 

The letter is addressed to Rep. Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioDemocratic chairman presses Transportation secretary over transparency in Boeing 737 Max probe Democratic lawmaker asks for probe of reports Chao favored Kentucky officials Hillicon Valley: Warren takes on Facebook over political ads | Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservatives | Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill MORE (D-Ore.), the chairman of the committee, and Rep. Sam GravesSamuel (Sam) Bruce GravesDemocratic lawmaker asks for probe of reports Chao favored Kentucky officials Trump administration to repeal waterway protections Republicans spend more than million at Trump properties MORE (R-Mo.), the ranking member. DeFazio introduced the Aviation Funding Stability Act last week. 

The letter is also addressed to Rep. Rick LarsenRichard (Rick) Ray LarsenAviation chairmen cite safety, new tech among concerns for the future The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Diplomat's 'powerful' testimony and 'lynching' attract headlines The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Trump's impeachment plea to Republicans MORE (D-Wash.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation, and subcommittee ranking member Garret GravesGarret Neal GravesBipartisan leadership will reduce emissions more quickly than Paris accord Lawmakers toast Greta Van Susteren's new show Video of young boy shielding Greta Thunberg from photographers goes viral MORE (R-La.).

hearing in the subcommittee, scheduled for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, will detail the effects of the recent government shutdown on the FAA and the aviation industry. The hearing, titled “Putting U.S. Aviation at Risk: The Impact of the Shutdown," will feature testimony from union and trade association leaders.