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Trump announces plan to privatize air traffic control

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 06-06-2017 ADAM EDELMAN

Amid the swirl of scandal and coming just days ahead of testimony from the FBI Director he fired, President Trump on Monday announced a plan to privatize air traffic control as part of a comprehensive package of infrastructure reforms — without once mentioning any of the controversies facing his administration.

In a superlative-laden speech from the East Room of the White House, Trump called for improving the nation's air traffic control system by separating some of its operations from the Federal Aviation Administration.

President Trump signs a decision memo and a letter to members of Congress outlining the principles of his plan to privatize the nation's air traffic control system on June 5. - Andrew Harnik/AP © Provided by New York Daily News President Trump signs a decision memo and a letter to members of Congress outlining the principles of his plan to privatize the nation's air traffic control system on June 5. - Andrew Harnik/AP

Blasting the current air traffic control operations as an "ancient, broken antiquated, horrible system," Trump announced a plan that would allow the FAA to focus on safety and create a "self-financing nonprofit organization" to deal with "route efficiency" and "reducing delays."

Trump said the proposed changes would lead to cheaper, safer, more efficient air travel.

"Prepare to enter a great new era in American aviation," he said.

Trump's announcement came on Day 1 of what observers of his administration have dubbed "infrastructure week." Over the next four days, the White House is expected to discuss various new elements of a proposed $1 trillion overhaul and modernization effort of the nation's roads, highways, bridges, waterways and airways.

But his agenda, which just months ago appeared to have potential for bipartisan support, faces an all but certain dead end in Congress, amid a growing number of controversies that have engulfed the White House.

Trump faces a growing federal investigation — now led by special counsel Robert Mueller — into whether members of his campaign or transition team coordinated with Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election. The probe has zeroed in on Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn and top aide Jared Kushner.

Simultaneously, James Comey, whom Trump fired for ramping up that investigation, will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, and may reveal additional damning details about Trump's interactions with him.

Meanwhile, Trump faces continued blowback for his decision last week to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, and, as his other domestic priorities, like health care, tax reform and his budget proposal, sit dormant following clumsy rollouts.

Infrastructure spending, however, remains popular among U.S. voters from both parties and could represent a narrow opportunity for Trump to get something done.

Greenlighting infrastructure projects could also help spur hiring across the U.S. Just last week, the Labor Department's jobs report showed that hiring slowed in May and was below previous estimates for March and April.

But Democrats have signaled increasing unwillingness to work with the administration, citing not only the scandals and its general combativeness, but also its reliance on private or public-private partnerships for funding for many of the infrastructure proposals.

Nevertheless, as part of his efforts this week, Trump will travel to Ohio Wednesday to address ways of improving levees, dams and locks along inland waterways that are crucial to agricultural exports, will meet with governors and mayors at the White House on Thursday for a listening session about using tax dollars for infrastructure projects, and will spend Friday meeting with Transportation Department officials to discuss regulatory issues on infrastructure projects.

With News Wire Services

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