Yesterday, the White House released the President's Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget proposal. NATCA is in the process of reviewing that proposal and the several thousands of pages of accompanying documents to fully understand how it would affect our members. Our initial review revealed a number of proposed changes to federal employee health and retirement benefits that would have a negative effect on our members if they are ultimately enacted. Many of the proposed changes were also in the President's FY 2018 budget proposal, but were not adopted through congressional action.
These attacks on federal employee health and retirement benefits are unacceptable and we will aggressively oppose these proposals. We are not alone in having concerns with some provisions within the proposed budget. However, it is important to remember that this is merely a budget proposal. It does not have the force of law and any policy change affecting federal employee rights and benefits contained in the President's budget proposal would have to go through the legislative process before it would be effective. Although we always must remain vigilant regarding the recommendations in the proposal, we should not overreact.
Congress must work through the appropriations process. At this point, it is impossible to know whether the resulting appropriations legislation will include any of the recommendations from the budget proposal. It is also important to remember that both the House and Senate are responsible for submitting their own budget proposals. Additionally, many of the non-fiscal policy proposals would have to move through the respective committees of jurisdiction.
Consistent with last year's Presidential budget proposal, the FY 2019 budget proposal also includes language outlining a multiyear reauthorization proposal that would include air traffic control (ATC) reform at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). As with any ATC reform proposal, NATCA will carefully review and consider the details of the proposal to ensure that it would result in a stable, predictable funding stream and that it meets our Four Core Principles for Reform:
- Protect the men and women who ensure the safety and efficiency of the NAS in their employment relationship, including their rights and benefits;
- Ensure that safety and efficiency remain the top priorities;
- Provide a stable, predictable funding stream that adequately supports air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term modernization, preventative maintenance, and ongoing modernization of the physical infrastructure; and
- Ensure continued service to all segments of our nation's diverse aviation community.
Rest assured, NATCA is working diligently to oppose these and all other attacks on federal employee benefits, as well as to advocate for all of the issues that are critically important to our members. We also will continue to advocate for a stable, predictable funding stream for our National Airspace System, to ensure that it remains the gold standard in aviation around the world.