Congress Passes Omnibus Funding Bill, Legislation Advances to President Biden for Signature
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2671, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, also known as the “omnibus” spending bill, which passed the U.S. Senate earlier in the week. The legislation will now head to President Biden’s desk, where he is expected to sign the measure into law. The Senate also passed a one-week extension of current funding, if needed, in the event the omnibus legislation cannot be formally printed and transmitted to the White House before federal funding expires at midnight. This will prevent any temporary shutdown.
Notably, the omnibus legislation does not override President Biden’s alternative pay plan that provides an average 4.6% federal pay raise (4.1% across-the-board increase in basic pay and an average 0.5% adjustment to locality pay). President Biden must sign an executive order to make the pay adjustments official.
The omnibus bill will fund the federal government, including the FAA, through Sept. 30, 2023 (the remainder of the 2023 fiscal year). Of critical importance to NATCA, the FAA received an overall funding increase, including a 4.2% increase for the FAA Operations account compared to last year’s enacted level. The omnibus bill also allocates an additional $1B for fiscal year 2023, as provided in the bipartisan infrastructure bill, to specific FAA facility and equipment projects.
In addition, the report that accompanies the legislation approves of the FAA’s plans to increase its controller hiring target for 2023 from 1,020 to 1,500 and requires the FAA to update Congress on a quarterly basis with respect to hiring and staffing levels.
Furthermore, the omnibus bill also includes the language from S.419/H.R. 1282, the Continuity for Operators with Necessary Training Required for ATC Contract Towers Act of 2021 or the CONTRACT Act. The CONTRACT Act allows controllers who retire from federal service to work as controllers at Federal Contract Towers without their federal annuity supplement being reduced or eliminated.
The omnibus package is the last major bill that the current Congress will consider before adjourning. A new Congress will convene January 3, 2023. NATCA encourages both political parties to put aside unnecessary budget brinkmanship next year, and to prioritize the passage of a bipartisan appropriations bill that fully funds the FAA for fiscal year 2024.
National Executive Board