LIKELY TO DOMINATE
With all federal programs under intense scrutiny,
AAAE and airports must remain engaged to high-
light the importance of airport operations and
BY JOEL BACON
The newly elected 113th Congress convened in early January to face a series of difficult budget issues that could reshape
fundamentally the size and scope of the
federal government and significantly affect
funding for programs and priorities of
importance to airports.
In the first few months of 2013 alone,
lawmakers will be forced to confront the
federal debt limit, tens of billions of dollars in potential across-the-board cuts as
part of sequestration, pending appropriations bills for the current fiscal year, and the beginning of the fiscal year 2014 budget process for federal departments and agencies.
The unfortunate reality is that there is little hope
that leaders will come together quickly to reach an
agreement on any of these items. As the experiences of 2012 with negotiations to avert the so-called
“fiscal cliff” illustrated vividly, nothing is easy in a
deeply divided Washington when it comes to budget issues.
November’s elections did little to alter the calculus in the nation’s capital in 2013, as voters opted
to return President Obama to office while maintaining a Democrat majority in the Senate and a
Republican majority in the House. With the same
tough, seemingly unresolvable fiscal issues on
the table, and with many of the same key players
in place in the White House and on Capitol Hill,
many experts and some lawmakers themselves
are already discussing the prospect of government
paralysis and potential federal shutdowns.
What will a divided government and the tangle
of tricky budget and spending issues mean for
airports? In addition to the obvious disruptions
that will occur should one or multiple federal
shutdowns occur, each of the upcoming fis-
cal battlefields — sequestration, the debt ceil-
ing debate, and appropriations for fiscal years
2013 and 2014 — will put AIP and other FAA
programs from NextGen to Essential Air Service
(EAS) and the contract tower program under
intense scrutiny, as lawmakers look to reduce
spending throughout the federal government.
TSA, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and
other agencies also will face increased pressure
and potential funding reductions.