Congressman Nadler Offers Amendment Requiring Air Traffic Control Corporation to Pay Taxpayers Fair Market Value for Assets

Jun 27, 2017 Issues: Transportation, Jobs, Labor and the Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), senior Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the highest ranking Democratic member from the northeast, offered an amendment to HR 2997, the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act. The amendment would require the newly privatized Air Traffic Control (ATC) Corporation to pay fair market value for the transfer of assets, and to return to the US Treasury the proceeds of any sales of this property or equipment within the first three years.

Congressman Nadler's statement, as prepared, follows below:

"My amendment addresses a very troubling problem with this bill, and one that contradicts long-standing policy of this Committee and Congress. This bill, like its predecessor, gives away billions in federal assets to a private corporation controlled by the airline industry and its allies. It just gives it all away, for free. In fact, the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General testified before our Committee that the net book value of FAA assets at the end of the last fiscal year was $13.7 billion. That’s just the baseline and doesn’t consider that the real property values in markets like Long Island, Chicago, Southern California, among others, continue to skyrocket.

"The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, on a bipartisan basis, has consistently operated on the general principle of requiring fair market value in exchange for any public asset that is conveyed by legislation. 

"The principle has always been that if the taxpayer acquires a piece of property that the taxpayer should receive full value for that asset.

"Sometimes discounts are given to the buyer based on use restrictions, capital investments made by the buyer, or to reflect the long-term control and maintenance costs an entity may have spent on the property.  None of these exceptions apply to the transfer of FAA and General Services Administration (GSA) assets contemplated in the privatization of ATC.

"We apply this fair market value principle across the board. It applies when Congress conveys land to a private party. It applies when Congress directs the GSA to enter into a land disposal agreement with a state or local municipality.

"It even applies when Federal agencies transfer land among each other. The Office of Management and Budget requires the receiving agency to pay fair market value for the land to the granting agency. For example, as the Department of Defense continues the disposal process for the Walter Reed Medical Center, and both the District of Columbia and the Department of State have been required to purchase parcels of the site from the Department of Defense.

"In addition to giving away Federal assets free of charge, as drafted, this bill allows the ATC Corporation to take control of all of Air Traffic Organization’s (ATO) assets and then sell them. Instead of the American taxpayers getting value for the assets they paid for, this private corporation hits a double jackpot – it gets the property free of charge, and if it doesn’t want it, it can sell it off and pocket the cash.

"Over the last 20 years, the American people have invested more than $50 billion in the facilities and equipment used by ATO. They deserve to receive the fair market value for those assets, and this amendment would make sure they do.

"In addition, this amendment requires that the ATC Corporation, in the first three years after transfer, returns to the United States Treasury any proceeds received from the sale or disposal of any of the property it received from the Federal government.

"This amendment brings this bill in line with long-standing principles of this Committee and Congress. I urge its adoption and I yield back the balance of my time."