Senate Committee Rejects Trump’s FAA Privatization Plan

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

I hesitate to use the word "plan" in association with anything related to Trump, but the Transportation Committee has rejected Trump's plan to privatize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The chairman of the committee, which is controlled by Republicans, says they don't have enough votes for it, meaning they couldn't pass it even along party lines.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who leads the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said the Senate's long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will not include the spinoff plan, citing the lack of support for the idea on his panel. [...]

“No, we don’t have the votes to pass that in our committee at the moment,” Thune told reporters on Tuesday. “We’ll see what the House is able to do and we’ll proceed accordingly. But if that issue were to get addressed, it would probably have to be on the floor in conference.”

The House will almost certainly be another story and I suspect the House will easily advance it if they want to, but as far as I know this is not something that could be passed with a simple majority in the Senate. Senate Democrats will object and call for its removal during conference under threat of filibuster.

Politically speaking, I'm not sure how this will play. Privatizing the FAA would undoubtedly lead to the loss of blue-collar jobs, but there's also a significant sphere of common ground between people who hate the government and people who simply hate flying.

If Trump's plan fails, it can probably be attributed to a combination of Democratic opposition and opposition from Republicans whose local airfields could be shuttered if the flow of federal money is cut off. That's assuming the GOP still cares if a major source of employment in their own backyards is closed, but I'm beginning to doubt even that as we watch the effort to repeal Obamacare unfold.

  • Aynwrong
    • Kathrynjpalmer

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  • muselet

    The Daily Fishwrap thinks privatization is just peachy:

    First, the Federal Aviation Administration’s funding is volatile, subject to the caprices of Congress, and hasn’t kept up with technology and large-scale capital improvement needs. Second, the governance structure suffers from too many government agencies micromanaging the system and an FAA with an inherent conflict of interest, since it is responsible for both providing services and conducting investigations of those services. And third, progress and innovation have been stifled by a risk-averse culture more interested in protecting the status quo.


    The nonprofit corporation model would much better align incentives to serve customers, from airlines and private pilots to, ultimately, commercial airline passengers. Crucially, it would also depoliticize funding and operations decisions.

    The source for that blather? None other than Robert Poole, a chair-warmer at the gloriously misnamed Reason Foundation.

    Can we please stop taking seriously the ravings of glibertarians?


    • Aynwrong

      The Daily Fishwrap sounds like it’s appropriately named.

      “Glibertarians” I like that.

    • JMAshby

      the Federal Aviation Administration’s funding is volatile, subject to the caprices of Congress, and hasn’t kept up with technology and large-scale capital improvement needs

      Uh, it would still be at the mercy and whims of Congress even if a private company were running it.

  • But . . . but . . . infrastructure week! Didn’t they see the glorious success that was infrastructure week!