House members rap OMB effort to freeze FAA funds

House Transportation Committee Chairman Don Young, R-Alaska, and ranking member James Oberstar, D-Minn., urged President Bush Wednesday to strike a preliminary Office of Management and Budget proposal for fiscal 2002 that they said could shortchange the Federal Aviation Administration by $568 million.

Under AIR 21, the major aviation-funding bill passed last year, Congress earmarks billions in general funds and airline- ticket tax funds for airport improvements and FAA operations.

Young and Oberstar called the OMB proposal "inadequate" because it freezes the FAA's capital accounts at their FY01 levels, costing the agency $368 million.

They also complained that the "slight inflationary increase" proposed by OMB would leave the agency's Operations Account short $200 million.

"A safe and efficient aviation system is simply too important ... to jeopardize with a shortsighted approach that defers capital investment and underfunds operational needs," they wrote.