June 22, 2021

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Members Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect FAA Workers and Operations from Future Government Shutdowns

Bill Text | Fact Sheet 

Washington, DC- Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Chair of the Subcommittee on Aviation Rick Larsen (D-WA) joined Representatives Bob Gibbs (R-OH) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) in introducing the Aviation Funding Stability Act of 2021. This legislation would protect Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs and personnel, and the U.S. aviation industry as a whole, from the effects of future federal government shutdowns.

During the 2018-2019 federal government shutdown, more than 17,000 FAA employees—approximately 40 percent of the entire agency—were furloughed, including the majority of the agency’s aviation safety inspectors. Other FAA employees, including air traffic controllers, continued to work without pay. The shutdown hindered the FAA’s ability to fulfill its critical mandate to oversee and ensure the safety of the U.S. aviation system and put unnecessary stress and burden on FAA personnel and their families.

“The United States has the safest and most efficient aviation system in the entire world. The system contributes trillions of dollars to our national economy and supports millions of American jobs. We can’t allow for everything to be thrown into chaos in the event of a federal government shutdown,” Chair DeFazio said. “Our bipartisan bill will ensure that the FAA can keep operating without interruption, which is essential to protecting public safety and the livelihoods of aviation workers who keep our country and economy moving.”

“Thanks to a skilled workforce, including the dedicated air traffic controllers and essential safety personnel who work at the FAA, U.S. aviation is the gold standard of flight,” Chair Larsen said. “Enabling the FAA to draw from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund during a funding lapse ensures essential personnel who work under stressful situations continue to get paid, and the largest, busiest and most complex airspace system in the world remains safe and functional for air passengers and crew.”

“Though government shutdowns are rare and typically short, even a lapse in funding of just a few days can cause significant problems for public safety,” Rep. Gibbs said. “Regardless of government funding status, air traffic controllers’ justified status as essential workers mean they have to show up to work. The Aviation Funding Stability Act would ensure that any lapse in appropriations will not lead to any degradation in public safety by giving the FAA the ability to pay air traffic controllers. I thank my colleagues for addressing this issue and urge bipartisan support for this commonsense proposal.”

“When government shutdowns take place, the aviation sector immediately suffers from the consequences of Washington’s dysfunction,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said. “I am proud to introduce the bipartisan Aviation Funding Stability Act of 2021, which ensures that FAA programs and personnel will be protected from the effects of a future federal government shutdown. We must do our part to ensure that our aviation workers will receive their pay on time and have the certainty they need to carry out their critical work which makes our airspace the safest in the world.”

Specifically, this legislation:

  • Authorizes the FAA to continue to draw from its Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF) during a lapse, with no General Fund contributions. The AATF typically generates enough revenue from the domestic passenger ticket tax, commercial fuel tax, general aviation gasoline tax, and cargo tax, among other sources, to sustain all FAA programs without a General Fund contribution needed during a lapse. Because users of the National Airspace System pay for the system, they deserve for it to function without interruption.
  • Allows the entire agency to operate at current funding levels, for up to 30 days, with no Congressional action required. This ensures that all FAA programs function uninterrupted and all FAA employees are paid for their important work.

This legislation has the support of aviation industry and labor stakeholders, including:

  • Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA)
  • Air Medical Operators Association (AMOA)
  • Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA)
  • Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)
  • Airlines for America (A4A)
  • Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA)
  • Allied Pilots Association (APA)
  • American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE)
  • Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA)
  • Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA)
  • Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)
  • Cargo Airline Association (CAA)
  • Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA)
  • General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA)
  • Helicopter Association International (HAI)
  • International Air Transport Association (IATA)
  • International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM)
  • International Brotherhood of Teamsters
  • National Air Carrier Association (NACA)
  • National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA)
  • National Air Transportation Association (NATA)
  • National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO)
  • National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)
  • National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA)
  • NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP)
  • Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO (PASS)
  • Regional Airline Association (RAA)
  • Small UAV Coalition
  • Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA)
  • Transport Workers Union of America (TWU)
  • Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD)