The Bush Administration alarmed a number of people early last month when it proposed cutting the FAA’s facilities and equipment (F&E) funding by nearly $400 million in its budget request for fiscal year 2005.
Presidency of George W. Bush
At about the same time Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta was announcing plans for a “next-generation air transportation system” to the Washington Aero Club in late January, word was filtering out of the White House that the Bush Administration wanted to cut the FAA’s facilities and equipment (F&E) budget for fiscal year 2005 by almost half a billion dollars.
With a disclaimer that the move does not indicate endorsement, Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure officially introduced the Bush Administration’s plan for reauthorizing the FAA.
As anticipated, there have been numerous changes in the makeup of President Bush’s cabinet. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Tom Ridge turned in his resignation, effective February 1 or until the Senate names a successor. Ridge had the unenviable task of coordinating and integrating the activities of 22 government agencies with 180,000 employees into one department.
DOT Secretary Norman Mineta on Friday announced he will resign July 7 after serving in the Bush Administration for more than five years, saying, “It is time for me to move on to other challenges.” As a member of Congress in 1994, Mineta was credited by NBAA for helping to ensure passage of the General Aviation Revitalization Act.
• Congress closed up shop on September 29, and November 13 was set as the date for what might be a lame-duck Congress to reconvene. The long interval freed legislators who are up for election to go to their home districts and do battle for votes. Democrats are hoping that the scandals surrounding Republican congressmen will influence voters to restore the Democrats to majorities in the House and Senate.
– Among the after-effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was a flood of Congressional bills to provide relief to the communities and people devastated by the storms. Cost estimates range up to $300 billion, and legislators showed passing concern about where the money would come from and the effect such funding would have on other government programs.
The Bush Administration rolled out its FY2007 budget plan early last month, calling for $13.75 billion for the FAA–down from the $14.31 billion for this fiscal year–and doling out a big hit on general aviation airports. Although the proposal does not yet call for user fees, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta warned that the agency will have to “relate revenue sources to the services being provided,” such as ATC.
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, a long-time advocate for general aviation and the lone Democrat in President Bush’s Cabinet, shocked and saddened the transportation industry when he announced his resignation June 20. He oversaw the DOT’s response to the 9/11 attacks, and his 5.5-year tenure was the longest in the history of the agency.
- Page 5