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U.S. House Members Take on Fight against Air Traffic Control Privatization - (2/14/2003)

WASHINGTON – A growing number of members of the House of Representatives, led by the ranking Democratic member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., have lent their voices to the chorus of opposition to privatizing the U.S. air traffic control system.

In a letter, the members of Congress asked President Bush to reconsider the decision to place air traffic controllers on the 2002 Office of Management and Budget Commercial Activities List, which is an inventory of activities performed by government personnel that should be subject to the forces of commercialization.

“We find this action very disturbing, as it appears to be an initial step towards privatizing our nation’s air traffic control (ATC) system,” the members wrote to the president. “In the existing ATC system, the FAA and the Congress make decisions on safety issues in the overall best public interest, with input from system users. If there is any move towards privatization or some form of government corporation, how will the public be assured that ATC operations will be managed with a primary goal of protecting the interest of airline passengers and ensuring safety and security?”

The letter comes on the heels of a similar movement against privatization in the Senate, including the introduction earlier this week of legislation by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.

“Congressman Oberstar has championed efforts to ensure the safety of air travel in this country for a long time and we enthusiastically stand behind his letter to the president and thank his fellow members of Congress for speaking out against a privatization scheme which we believe directly threatens the future safety of our system,” National Air Traffic Controllers Association President John Carr said. “We thank Congressman Oberstar for his leadership on this issue.”

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