A short-lived government shutdown overnight is now over. Early this morning, Congress passed a broad, bipartisan budget agreement that includes a six-week continuing resolution (CR) that funds the government at current levels through March 23. Later this morning, the President signed the CR into law.
Although the government is now operating on its fifth consecutive CR since September 2017, the budget agreement alleviates two notable threats to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding. First, it removes domestic spending caps and prevents automatic, drastic sequestration cuts to our National Airspace System for the next two years and stops a return of save money furloughs like we saw five years ago. Second, it waives the debt ceiling until March 1, 2019 to accommodate an increase in domestic federal spending. Congress now has until March 23 to finalize details of the full appropriations bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 18.
However, today's news ultimately does not fix the broken status quo, stop-and-go funding crises caused by CRs, government shutdowns, and short-term extensions to FAA authorization.
We face another potential shutdown in six weeks.
These stop-and-go funding crises slow the hiring and training process for air traffic controllers and perpetuate the current staffing crisis, which has resulted in a 29-year low of certified professional controllers. The NAS requires and deserves a stable, predictable funding stream to adequately support our great professions with necessary air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term modernization projects, preventative maintenance, ongoing modernization to the physical infrastructure, and the timely implementation of NextGen modernization projects.
As always, we will monitor the progress of the longer-term appropriations bill due by March 23 as it develops within Congress, while we continue to advocate for a long-term stable, predictable funding stream for the NAS. We also will continue to advocate for all of the other issues that are important to our members and those that are critical to maintaining the safest, most efficient, most complex, and most diverse aviation system in the world.