President Donald Trump threw his weight behind a proposal to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system on Monday, and a White House adviser called the multi-billion dollar effort “low-hanging fruit” that can get through Congress quickly.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson doesn’t see it that way.
Nelson, up for reelection in 2018, is the top Democrat on the Senate committee which oversees the Federal Aviation Administration. He fought for years against proposals to hand the nation’s air traffic control system over to a private non-profit, which he argues will hurt smaller airports and recreational flights.
Nelson’s opposition has been successful for years, as Democrats and Republicans from rural states fretted about privatization’s effect on small airports and recreational aviation. A privatization bill proposed by House Transportation chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., didn’t even make it to the House floor last Congress.
But President Trump, with Shuster at his side, pitched air traffic control privatization as a win for consumers on Monday, putting pressure on congressional Republicans to get on board.
“For too many years, our country has tolerated unacceptable delays at the airport, long wait times on the tarmac and a slowing of commerce and travel that costs us billions and billions of dollars in lost hours and lost dollars themselves,” Trump said at a White House speech touting the plan.
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