recommended reading

Funding debate threatens to ground NextGen air traffic control

Senate aviation leaders from both parties are each proposing to add more than half a billion dollars to the economic stimulus bill to modernize the nation's air traffic control system.

But, echoing a larger disagreement between the parties in the stimulus talks, whether to offset the new spending or just add to the bill's overall cost is keeping Commerce Chairman John (Jay) Rockefeller and ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison from backing each other's amendment and might sink both attempts.

Rockefeller and Hutchison each have an amendment that includes $550 million for FAA's Next Generation Air Transportation System. Each is identical in setting aside money to purchase and install ground infrastructure, develop routes and procedures supporting more efficient air navigation, purchase aircraft equipment and support FAA's safety oversight during the transition from a ground-based to satellite-based system.

The key difference is that Hutchison's amendment reduces "administrative or programmatic overhead" across the board in the bill to make up for the added spending.

Rockefeller so far has the support of likely incoming Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey. Hutchison has Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Ensign of Nevada as a co-sponsor.

Neither amendment seems likely to survive, as Republican complaints about the overall cost of the bill seem destined to make it difficult for anyone to add even more money.

Far more likely to be added is an amendment Rockefeller and Hutchison have joined forces on that would extend aviation funding and taxes until the end of the fiscal year. The funding and taxes are set to expire at the end of March.

That extension -- and agreement by Rockefeller and Hutchison that aviation modernization funding should be in the stimulus -- comes as lawmakers will try again this Congress to approve a multi-year FAA bill.

Both parties are in agreement that the stimulus bill could use more funding for infrastructure. But there, too, there are disagreements about how to pay for it.

Republicans Tuesday defeated an amendment from Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that would have added $25 billion in infrastructure spending without offsets.

Only two Republicans -- Sens. Christopher (Kit) Bond of Missouri and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania -- voted against a successful budget point of order against the amendment raised by Environment and Public Works ranking member James Inhofe. Every Democrat except Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana voted against Inhofe's point of order, which required 60 votes to overcome.

Inhofe and Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer filed an amendment Wednesday that would add up to $50 billion in infrastructure funds by shifting money elsewhere in the bill that is not used within a year.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.