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.
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 Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sticks to his Afghanistan deadline Biden commends Pelosi for 'masterful' leadership Overnight Energy: Democrats tout new report to defend KeystoneXL cancellation MORE (D-Ore.), the chairman of the committee, and Rep. Sam GravesSamuel (Sam) Bruce GravesHouse passes 0B package, hoping to sway infrastructure debate GOP lawmaker points to Colonial Pipeline as infrastructure vulnerability Gas shortages spread to more states 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 LarsenFAA: New manufacturing issue discovered in undelivered Boeing 787 Dreamliners Newest Boeing 737 Max takes first test flight Democrats seek answers from Boeing, FAA after production issues with 737 Max, Dreamliner jets MORE (D-Wash.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation, and subcommittee ranking member Garret GravesGarret Neal GravesGOP seeks to keep spotlight on Afghanistan as Dems advance Biden's .5T spending plan Biden to travel to New Jersey and New York, survey Ida damage New Orleans could see power back by middle of next week, officials say MORE (R-La.).
A 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.