June 15, 1999
The Administration strongly supports, and looks forward to working with the House and Senate to enact, a multi-year authorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that will provide a sound foundation for America's airport and airways system in the 21st Century. H.R. 1000 includes several provisions which could form the basis for such legislation, including enhanced Passenger Facility Charge levels, improved assistance for the families of airline accident victims, stronger protection for the disabled, and a phase out of the High Density Rule (except at Reagan National Airport). However, if H.R. 1000 were presented to the President in its current form, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.
This bill does not offset any of the significant increases in spending it would provide. By removing aviation spending from the requirements of the Budget Enforcement Act, H.R. 1000 would increase spending $21 billion above the baseline. As a result, H.R. 1000 would substantially reduce the budget surplus, which the President proposes to reserve pending enactment of a plan to ensure the long-term solvency of Social Security and Medicare reform. In contrast, increased ground transportation spending in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) was fully offset, consistent with the requirements of the Balanced Budget Act and Budget Enforcement Act.
It is our understanding that the rule makes in order an amendment that would direct OMB to reduce the caps by baseline estimates of spending for these programs. This amendment does nothing to address the increased spending that would come from the surplus under the Committee bill. At the same time, the amendment would require reductions in the caps that would put all other discretionary programs at a disadvantage, including national security, veterans medical care, education programs, science and technology programs, and the National Institutes of Health.
This bill also removes aviation trust fund spending from the unified federal budget. Since 1985, Congress and the Administration have accepted the principle that receipts and spending should be combined into one budget. A unified budget presents spending tradeoffs and permits more fully informed decisions to be made on allocating the Nation's resources.
The Administration urges the Congress to address these issues. In addition, the Administration will work with Congress to:
Finally, H.R. 1000 should be amended to provide that FAA's "personnel management system is governed by merit system principles consistent with those expressed in 5 U.S.C. 2301," as proposed in section 212 (d) of the Administration's draft Federal Aviation Act of 1999, transmitted to Congress by the Department of Transportation on February 8, 1999. The Administration also looks forward to working with Congress to improve H.R. 1000's provisions relating to public aircraft.
H.R. 1000 would affect direct spending and receipts; therefore, it is subject to the pay-as-you-go requirements of the Omnibus Budget and Reconciliation Act of 1990. OMB's scoring estimate of this bill is currently under development.