Shutdowns Show Why Airline Industry Shouldn’t Depend On Washington

The Daily Signal | 2/13/2019 | Staff
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David Ditch is a research assistant in the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget at The Heritage Foundation.

When the border-funding dispute between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats led to a partial federal government shutdown, what followed was weeks of speculation on what would cause one side or the other to back down.

Handful - Employees - Control - Center - Leesburg

As it turns out, just a handful of employees at an air-traffic control center in Leesburg, Virginia, brought the debate regarding billions of dollars for border security to a screeching halt.

The group, who were working without pay, all called in sick on Jan. 25. As a result, the undermanned Leesburg control center halted flights to New York’s LaGuardia Airport. In turn, this escalated political pressure to end the partial shutdown.

Feb - Rep - Peter - DeFazio - D-Ore

On Feb. 8, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., introduced legislation intended to prevent that situation from recurring. DeFazio, as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has vowed that his bill would receive prompt attention in his committee.

DeFazio’s proposal would provide an alternate funding mechanism for the Federal Aviation Administration in case there was a lapse of regular appropriations.

Backstop - Mechanism - Airport - Airway - Trust

The backstop mechanism would tap into the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, paid for by taxes on airline passengers. Most spending from the trust fund goes towards the Airport Improvement Program, which gives grants to airports for construction projects.

As is too often the case, DeFazio seeks to solve one problem caused by government with an even more complicated government-based solution. If enacted, the bill could trigger a wave of convoluted backdoor-funding bills that would leave the federal government wired like a badly designed home-entertainment system.

Reality - Nation - Airline - System - Washington

In reality, the nation’s airline system should not rely on Washington, D.C., for basic functioning.

Government has a role in regulating services such as air-traffic control and passenger screening. However, the active provision of those services...
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