August 06, 2017

Top Transportation Committee Democrats Request CBO Score of Revised AIRR Act

The Honorable Keith Hall


Congressional Budget Office

402 Ford House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515


Dear Director Hall:

            Last month, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its cost estimate for H.R. 2997, the “21st Century AIRR Act”, as ordered reported by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. CBO determined that H.R. 2997, which privatizes the Nation’s air traffic control system, would increase net deficits by more than $20 billion over the next 10 years and by more than $5 billion in subsequent 10-year periods.

            Subsequent to CBO’s cost estimate, the Committee on Rules posted a different version of H.R. 2997 (Rules Committee Print 115-25) for consideration on the House Floor. Rules Committee Print 115-25 includes significant changes to the version of the bill that CBO previously reviewed. For instance, compared to the reported bill, Rules Committee Print 115-25:

  • cuts $1 billion of contract authority funding for airport construction grants under the Airport Improvement Program;
  • authorizes $945 million from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund for research and development activities of the Federal Aviation Administration;
  • slashes revenues from aviation excise taxes by more than $15 billion per year (on average) from current levels beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2021; and
  • includes no budgetary offsets. 

In total, these changes to H.R. 2997, reflected in Rules Committee Print 115-25, likely add tens of billions of dollars to the cost of the legislation and, thus, the budget deficit. These changes were executed without any opportunity for us, as Ranking Members of the Committees of jurisdiction, to provide input or to debate the wisdom of the changes. Moreover, given that none of these changes were considered in the Committees of jurisdiction, CBO has not provided any cost estimate of their effects. 

            Therefore, to better inform Members of Congress of the significant changes included in H.R. 2997 prior to Floor consideration, we request that CBO issue a full cost estimate of Rules Committee Print 115-25 by September 5, 2017.

If you have any questions, please contact Ward McCarragher, Democratic Chief Counsel, of the Committee on Transportation on Infrastructure (ext. 54472).

Thank you for your consideration.




_______________________                                      _______________________

PETER DeFAZIO                                                    JOHN A. YARMUTH

Ranking Member                                                   Ranking Member

Committee on Transportation                                Committee on the Budget

and Infrastructure                                                       


_______________________                                      _______________________

EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON                                  RICHARD E. NEAL

Ranking Member                                                    Ranking Member

Committee on Science, Space, and                      Committee on Ways and Means



cc:        The Honorable Pete Sessions, Chairman Committee on Rules

             The Honorable Louise McIntosh Slaughter, Ranking Member, Committee on Rules

             The Honorable Bill Shuster, Chairman, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

             The Honorable Diane Black, Chairman, Committee on the Budget

             The Honorable Lamar Smith, Chairman, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

             The Honorable Kevin Brady, Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means