Despite reaching a bipartisan budget agreement last month, Congress has until 11:59 p.m. EDT on Friday, March 23, to pass a long-term "omnibus" spending package for the remainder of fiscal year 2018. If not passed, Congress will need to pass its sixth consecutive short-term continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open and funded. Otherwise, the government will shut down at midnight. Additionally, FAA authorization is set to expire on March 31. Although the current proposed omnibus includes an FAA extension of the Agency's authority through Sept. 30, 2018, i
f it doesn't pass, Congress will need to pass its fifth short-term FAA extension to keep the Agency authorized. Otherwise, the Agency will face a partial shutdown.
NATCA has been working closely with key congressional leaders and committee staff on the omnibus and the FAA extension, and has been advocating for the inclusion of critical NATCA policy provisions. The omnibus bill - HR 1625, the
'Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018' - was filed in the House of Representatives on Wednesday evening, with lawmakers from both chambers planning to vote on the proposal before the Friday deadline.
The current plan is for the House to vote on the omnibus on Thursday. It is expected to pass the House and be transmitted to the Senate. If the Senate does not pass the omnibus by Friday night, Congress may need to pass a 2-3 day CR to keep the government operating until the omnibus receives final approval. Should this schedule change, we will send another update regarding the status of the bill.
The status quo is broken and must be fixed.
Having faced multiple shutdowns, short-term CRs, and short-term extensions to FAA authorization in recent months, the FAA continues to be plagued by an unstable, unpredictable funding stream that is crippling our National Airspace System (NAS). These repeated 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. A stable funding stream is also essential for long-term NextGen modernization projects, preventative maintenance, and ongoing modernization to the physical infrastructure.
In the event that these congressional votes don't go as currently expected and another federal government shutdown occurs this weekend, NATCA has negotiated a procedural
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
with the FAA to accompany the existing furlough MOU and questions & answers that appear in
Appendix P-4 of the Slate Book
. The Appendix P-4 MOU applies to all NATCA BUEs in the FAA regardless of contract. NATCA also continues to work with the FAA to ensure that the Agency's list of "excepted employees" who would not be subject to furlough is as accurate as possible.
As always, we will continue to advocate for all of the issues that are important to our members and critical to maintaining the safest, most efficient, most complex, and most diverse aviation system in the world.