Insta-CoGo: Congress Bickers, Travelers Lose
Don't hold your breath for improvements in the air traffic control system -- or for a time when business jets will pay their fair share of the cost of the air traffic control system. Legislation including those provisions -- to say nothing of reauthorizing the FAA for another five years -- has gotten bogged down in partisan bickering over unrelated matters. Congress might simply temporarily reauthorize the FAA as it is now and put the important bill in hiberation until next year.
Among the things in the bill that won't likely get done in timely fashion:
* A provision requiring airlines to provide food, drinking water, cabin ventilation, toilet facilities and access to medical treatment when planes are stuck on the ground for hours.
* Funds for a satellite-based air traffic control system that could help clear the congestion that makes so many planes so late.
* A provision to raise the fuel tax on business jets from 21.8 cents a gallon to 36 cents a gallon, which proponents say would make the system more fair to the slugs in commercial planes who pay for the bulk of the air traffic control system.
Republicans objected to the tax increase and wanted less allocated to roads and highways, and there was some complicated mess about pensions. But much of the verbiage was about a fight involving rules for offering amendments to the bill. The Democrats failed in an effort to cut off debate.
This kind of thing happens so often it must seem perfectly natural on the Hill. From my desk, it's ridiculous. Do you tear down your house when your family members can't agree on new curtain colors?
Then again, the bill might have gotten vetoed anyway: The White House doesn't like a provision that would strengthen collective bargaining power for air traffic controllers, and one about requirements for FAA inspections of foreign maintenance centers.
To paraphrase Rodney King: Can't you people just get along, or at least get moving with the important things you do agree on? Am I missing something here?
By Cindy Loose |
May 8, 2008; 3:05 PM ET
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