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 DeFazioThe House Democrats who voted to kill impeachment effort The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Deadline approaches for 2020 Dems Dems eye big infrastructure package, with or without Trump MORE (D-Ore.), the chairman of the committee, and Rep. Sam GravesSamuel (Sam) Bruce GravesRepublicans spend more than million at Trump properties Acting FAA chief defends agency's Boeing 737 Max safety certification Thirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill 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 LarsenTwo Democrats vow to press forward on Trump impeachment Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment WHIP LIST: The 87 House Democrats backing an impeachment inquiry MORE (D-Wash.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation, and subcommittee ranking member Garret GravesGarret Neal GravesHouse committee forwards bills to bar offshore drilling across US Overnight Energy: Interior pick heads toward Senate confirmation | Dems want probe into nominee's role on pesticide report | House climate panel holds first hearing Newly-formed House climate panel holds first hearing 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.