Clinton, sidestepping Congress, creates new federal unit to manage air traffic

Clinton, sidestepping Congress, creates new federal unit to manage air traffic

Shortly before leaving office, President Clinton issued an executive order creating an Air Traffic Organization within the Federal Aviation Administration. His move sidestepped Congress, which has ignored proposals to fold air traffic control functions into a performance-based unit of FAA.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which had feared a congressional effort to privatize the nation's beleaguered air traffic system, supports the Clinton order.

The president urged Congress to rethink tax funding of the air traffic control system. He suggested charging fees that would rise for travel during peak periods. That conflicts with existing regulations, which Clinton asked his transportation secretary, Rodney E. Slater, to resolve.

FAA administrator Jane Garvey will oversee the organization.

As soon as the new organization is fully financed by cost-based fees, Congress should let it borrow funds from the Treasury Department or from private markets to finance long-term capital investments, the Clinton administration said. The fees would replace direct appropriations.

Slater also announced a five-person board to direct the new organization. The chairman will be John W. Snow, chairman of CSX Corp. and a former Transportation Department official. Other members are Nancy Kassebaum Baker, a former Republican senator from Kansas who chaired the Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee on aviation; John L. Cullinane, chairman of the Cullinane Group; Leon Lynch, international vice president of the United Steel Workers of America; and Sharon Patrick, president and chief operating officer of Martha Stewart Living.

Though subordinate to the FAA administrator, the board would have budgeting power. The order reassigns to the new organization about 37,000 FAA employees.

'Tony Lee Orr

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