The ongoing impasse in Washington over the Fiscal Year 2011 U.S. federal budget means that the Pentagon can spend only at 2010 budget levels and cannot start new programs. Meanwhile, it has submitted a budget request of $553 billion for 2012, compared with $548 billion requested for 2011. But the mood in Congress has swung in favor of serious efforts to cut deficit spending. The years of burgeoning defense budgets in the U.S.
United States federal budget
A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee illustrates the FAA’s challenge in defining NextGen, which would transform 20th Century communications, navigation and surveillance into the advanced technology environment of 2025 and beyond.
Aviation–and in particular general aviation–dodged a financial bullet early last month when the Obama Administration released a Fiscal Year 2011 budget request that contained no new user fees for aviation.
President Barack Obama charged into his presidency full of enthusiasm for plans to staff his cabinet with worthies, stimulate the economy, revise fiscal policies and eliminate wasteful government spending through earmarked amendments. Spending watchdogs noted that in the first presidential debate Obama said, “We need earmark reform, and when I am President I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.”
• Normal Congressional activities came to a screeching halt in late September and early October as the legislature turned its attention to deciding what to do about the nation’s financial crisis. A lot of midnight oil was burned by a host of instant money experts. First the House rejected a $700 billion bill, then the Senate worked out a compromise, passed that bill and sent it on to the House, where it was accepted and passed.
Congress took most of the month of January off, and when it returned to the business of the nation, the Enron bankruptcy captured its attention. A multitude of congressional committees undertook to explore the whys and wherefores of the collapse. The Democrats sought ties between Enron, President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
In an interim report issued in late March, the Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry urged President Bush and Congress to form a “high level” working group to deal with the long-term ATC needs of the country. At the same time, the group also wants funding to be maintained in fiscal years 2003 and 2004 for FAA and NASA projects to improve the ATC system.
When Congress returned from its August recess, both houses set about to debate what to do about the declining budget surplus and what to do about spending.
• Congress recessed for a couple of weeks at Easter time. “Pro forma” sessions continued in the Senate. To keep President Bush from making recess appointments for a number of government positions, the Senate convenes and adjourns in a matter of minutes, thereby blocking presidential action.
• Following the recess for the year-end holiday season, the 110th Congress apparently was in no rush to resume work on leftover legislation and to prepare for new business. The House of Representatives returned on January 15, while the Senate indulged in “pro forma” or “hello and goodbye” sessions until January 22.