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NATCA APPLAUDS HOUSE, SENATE LEADERSHIP REACHING BIPARTISAN TOP-LINE SPENDING AGREEMENT

(WASHINGTON) – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) applauds Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Speaker of the House of Representatives Johnson on their bi-partisan, bi-cameral top-line spending agreement. We hope that this agreement will lead to swift passage of a bill to avert the partial government shutdown that would otherwise begin at 12:01 a.m. EST on January 20, 2024.  

Any lapse in funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would be deeply problematic. The FAA is facing many challenges, including a well-documented air traffic controller staffing shortage and recent safety incidents. It is clear, based on experience, that a shutdown would be extremely harmful to the National Airspace System (NAS) and even a last-minute deal will cause some disruptions to long-term infrastructure and technology programs.  

The 35-day government shutdown that spanned Dec. 2018 through Jan. 2019 eroded critical layers of safety within NAS. Many of the safety activities that proactively reduce risk were suspended during that shutdown. Ultimately, the NAS was less safe for months after that shutdown ended than before it began. The FAA, its frontline workforce, and the flying public cannot afford another disruptive shutdown of any duration. 

“As we know all too well, shutdowns negatively affect the flying public, cause significant delays to critical programs, waste taxpayer money, harm the economy, and take a toll on NATCA members and their families,” said NATCA President Rich Santa. “The vast majority NATCA members are required to work without pay throughout the duration of a shutdown, including mandatory overtime, while others are furloughed.”  

NATCA continues to urge Congress to pass a robust a Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) appropriations bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024. 

Led by Appropriations Chair Patty Murray and Vice-Chair Susan Collins, the United States Senate passed a strong FY 2024 bill to fund the FAA with an overwhelming bipartisan majority voting in favor of the legislation. NATCA appreciates the tireless work of the House Appropriations Committee, which has passed its FY 2024 THUD appropriations bill out of committee.  

Importantly, both versions of the bill provide full funding for the FAA Operations account, which would allow the FAA to continue to improve air traffic control services, as well as to conduct maximum hiring of new controller trainees throughout the fiscal year as part of a long-term plan to alleviate the staffing crisis, NATCA’s top priority. The Senate-passed THUD bill also includes robust funding for the FAA Facilities & Equipment account, another critical NATCA priority.  

“We urge the House to pass its THUD bill and, afterwards, for the House and Senate leadership from both parties to move quickly to reach a final agreement on THUD and pass it,” Santa said. “This will help ensure that FAA and its dedicated workforce can continue to fulfill its vital mission. Anything less would jeopardize ongoing efforts to improve the safety and efficiency of the NAS.” 

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FOR MORE INFORMATION:  

Galen Munroe, Deputy Director of Public Affairs; 202-220-9802, gmunroe@natca.org. 

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) is a labor union and aviation safety organization in the United States that represents nearly 20,000 highly skilled air traffic controllers, engineers, and other aviation safety-related professionals. NATCA was certified in 1987 by the Federal Labor Relations Authority to be the exclusive bargaining representative for air traffic controllers employed by the Federal Aviation Administration. Today, NATCA is one of the strongest labor unions in the federal sector and represents a range of aviation safety professionals in 15 FAA bargaining units, five Department of Defense air traffic facilities, and 123 federal contract towers. These air traffic controllers and other aviation safety professionals make vital contributions to the U.S. economy and make modern life possible by coordinating the safe, orderly, and expeditious movement of one billion aviation passengers and millions of tons of freight within the National Airspace System each year. NATCA is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and is affiliated with the AFL-CIO. 

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