EEUU: Privatization plan hits turbulence; supporters still upbeat

A plan to privatize the nation’s air traffic control operations has hit turbulence in the House, raising questions about whether one of President Donald Trump’s infrastructure priorities can survive.

The concept of splitting off air traffic control from the Federal Aviation Administration faces even longer odds in the Senate, but supporters were counting on backing from the president and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to move the legislation forward and keep prospects for privatization alive. (With backing from major airlines and Trump, will air traffic control reform finally take off?)

The bill to extend federal aviation programs was expected to come to a vote in the House as early as this week. But leadership has not yet scheduled a vote. The question is why.

«I think it’s on life-support personally,» said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., disagrees. He said lawmakers are just now beginning to focus on the legislation and need some time to wade through the bill’s many provisions that would affect airports and the traveling public in their home districts.

«So now they’re sitting down and talking to us, trying to understand what they’re hearing, what they’re seeing, what’s true and what’s not true,» Shuster said. «It’s a process and the process always happens this way.»

Trump has endorsed privatization of air traffic control operations and the president’s budget calls Shuster’s bill «an excellent starting point.»

The vast majority of Democratic lawmakers oppose efforts to split off air traffic control operations from the FAA, a move that would affect some 14,000 controllers and thousands more technicians and engineers. The agency would remain responsible for regulating aviation safety, including the work of the new company…

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