FAA agreement breaks privatization stalemate

After months of a stalemate over whether the government should be allowed to privatize air traffic control workers, the Senate Friday approved the conference report on the $60 billion FAA reauthorization.

The White House accepted senators' call for a one-year moratorium on privatization of any air traffic jobs, and lawmakers approved the bill by voice vote.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., filibustered the conference report because Republican conferees on the bill had removed anti-privatization language passed by the House and Senate last summer.

But Senate Republicans and Democrats reached a deal last week on the privatization moratorium, asking for assurance that it would not privatize air traffic controllers for one year. Initially, the administration agreed, but senators countered with a demand for extending the moratorium to include technical and support staff.

After nearly a weeklong deadlock between the White House and Capitol Hill, the administration agreed late Friday to the deal, and the Senate quickly approved the legislation on the floor.

The four-year reauthorization, which passed the House Oct. 30, includes $14 billion for airport improvement projects, and $2 billion to install explosive detection systems used to screen passenger baggage.

Lautenberg has said he will push next year for a permanent moratorium on privatization.

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