OMB’s FAA Reauthorization Letter
President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget on April 14, 2016 sent a letter to Senators Thune (R-ND) and Nelson (D-FL) listing problems with their S. 2658, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016. That official Statement of Administration Position is not a routine document and reflects policies important to the President.
This SAP and other Obama actions/inactions require an electron microscope to parse what REALLY is Administration’s support of NextGen.
Here is the summary sentence of the Obama OMB position on the FAA Reauthorization:
“The Administration’s priorities for a long-term aviation reauthorization bill include the need to ensure safety, serve the public interest, modernize the air traffic control system, and better align aviation resources with the needs of the National Airspace (NAS).”
What the electron microscope shows is that, after that stirring introduction, Modernization of the FAA ATC system or better known as NextGen is not mentioned. Added emphasis is given to a number of points:
- interference by Congress with the FAA’s ATC hiring,
- overly prescriptive Senate language about UAS rules,
- instructions to TSA about its staffing/equipment,
- specificity about the flight rules over National Parks, and
- the absence of an increase in the PFC dollar levels.
The SAP does not cite anything more about NextGen.
Nothing directed to the value, need and benefits of NextGen. There is no mention that this technological upgrade of the system will improve safety, increase efficiency, reduce CO2 emissions and create high paying jobs in developing/installing the equipment.
In fact, both President Obama and Secretary Foxx have been virtually silent on the largest civilian technology investment. The President has given strong support for high speed rail in his budgets and has drawn negative reactions from the aviation industry on his lack of interest in NextGen. Sec. Foxx has not been a visible advocate for the DoT’s largest infrastructure investment and when he has spoken, his words have been underwhelming. Seemingly, he has never met a highway project that he did not love.
The electron microscope shows such a barely perceptible pattern of this Administration’s pursuit of NextGen’s funding and implementation. OMB’s SAP shows its priorities by what the message highlights. Is it fair to infer that the President and the Secretary of Transportation are not supporters of NextGen?