H. Con. Res. 71 (115th Congress)

Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for
Fiscal Year 2018


TITLE IV—RESERVE FUNDS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
sec. 401. reserve fund for commercialization of air traffic control.

(a) In General.—In the House of Representatives, the chair of the Committee on the Budget may adjust, at a time the chair deems appropriate,[1] the section 302(a) allocation to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and other applicable committees of the House of Representatives, aggregates, and other appropriate levels established in this concurrent resolution for a bill or joint resolution, or amendment thereto or conference report thereon, that commercializes the operations of the air traffic control system if such measure reduces the discretionary spending limits in section 251(c) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 by the amount that would otherwise be appropriated to the Federal Aviation Administration for air traffic control. Adjustments to the section 302(a) allocation to the Committee on Appropriations, consistent with the adjustments to the discretionary spending limits under such section 251(c), shall only be made upon enactment of such measure.

(b) Definition.—For purposes of this section, a measure that commercializes the operations of the air traffic control system shall be a measure that establishes a Federally-chartered, not-for-profit corporation that—

(1) is authorized to provide air traffic control services within the United States airspace;

(2) sets user fees to finance its operations;

(3) may borrow from private capital markets to finance improvements;

(4) is governed by a board of directors composed of a CEO and directors whose fiduciary duty is to the entity; and

(5) becomes the employer of those employees directly connected to providing air traffic control services and who the Secretary transfers from the Federal Government.


Counsel Notes
Comment

The section uses the term “commercialization” but does not define it. The implication is that the current government controlled air traffic control system would be privatized, but it is left vague, likely purposefully so.

Endnotes

[1] The clause “at any time the chair deems appropriate” is language not found in the other reserve funds in this concurrent resolution, nor in reserve funds from previous budget resolutions. It appears to have no meaning, since the Budget Chair is not under any constraints as to the timing of an adjustment for as long as the reserve fund is in effect. What makes this clause a strange addition is that at the end of the reserve fund itself adds such a restriction, indicating that the adjustment “shall only be made upon enactment of such measure.” The question then becomes which term controls – the general authority to allow the adjustment at any time, or the specific prohibition that places a time limit on it. As a general legal interpretation, specific provisions tend to be favored over a more general one, but this is an instance of poor drafting.


House Budget Committee Report on Budget Resolution
(H. Rept. 115-240, Report on H. Con. Res. 71 (115th Congress))

Section 401. Reserve Fund for Commercialization of Air Traffic Control.

Subsection (a) permits the Chair of the Committee on the Budget to adjust, at a time the Chair deems appropriate, the 302(a) allocation to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives and other applicable committees, aggregates, and other appropriate levels in the budget resolution for legislation that commercializes the operations of the air traffic control system. To qualify for the adjustment, the legislation must reduce the discretionary spending limits under section 251(c) of the Deficit Control Act of 1985 by the amount appropriated to the Federal Aviation Administration for air traffic control. The adjustment under this section shall only be made upon enactment of such an aviation bill.

Subsection (b) provides that, to qualify for the adjustment, the legislation must establish a federally-chartered, not-for-profit corporation that: (1) is authorized to provide air traffic control services within U.S. airspace; (2) sets user fees to finance its operations; (3) may borrow from private capital markets to finance improvements; (4) is governed by a board of directors composed of a CEO and directors whose fiduciary duty is to the entity; and (5) becomes the employer of those employees directly connected to providing air traffic control services and who the Secretary transfers from the Federal Government.

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