- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 13, 2007

BLOOMBERG NEWS

President Bush’s administration would reject any aviation budget plan that reopens contract talks with air-traffic controllers, the top Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said.

“The administration will not accept it, the president will not accept it,” Rep. John L. Mica, a Florida Republican, said at a press conference yesterday. “It would set a horrible precedent for government.”

The Federal Aviation Administration a year ago imposed a contract on controllers that reduced starting pay 30 percent. The controllers are seeking legislation that would force the agency to reopen contract talks.

A disagreement over controllers could complicate plans in Congress to approve legislation funding the FAA before existing taxes and fees financing the agency expire Sept. 30.

Mr. Mica said that he is concerned that House Democrats’ version of the budget plan will include the controller language.

Jim Berard, a spokesman for Minnesota Democrat James L. Oberstar, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s chairman, declined to say what will be included in the FAA plan, which is expected to be completed this week or next.

“We’re really not giving out any details because things could change very quickly,” Mr. Berard said.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown didn’t immediately return a telephone call for a comment. The agency is part of the Transportation Department.