[Senate Report 116-263]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]


                                                       Calendar No. 526
                                                      

116th Congress  }                                          {    Report
                              SENATE                          
2d Session      }                                          {    116-263
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

                                                       

   CONTINUITY FOR OPERATORS WITH NECESSARY TRAINING REQUIRED FOR ATC 
                      CONTRACT TOWERS ACT OF 2019

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

           COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION

                                   on

                                S. 2898




               September 8, 2020.--Ordered to be printed
               
               
                             ______

             U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE 
 99-010                WASHINGTON : 2020           
 
 
 
               
               
       SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
                     one hundred sixteenth congress
                             second session

                 ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi, Chairman
JOHN THUNE, South Dakota             MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
ROY BLUNT, Missouri                  AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota
TED CRUZ, Texas                      RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Connecticut
DEB FISCHER, Nebraska                BRIAN SCHATZ, Hawaii
JERRY MORAN, Kansas                  EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
DAN SULLIVAN, Alaska                 TOM UDALL, New Mexico
CORY GARDNER, Colorado               GARY C. PETERS, Michigan
MARSHA BLACKBURN, Tennessee          TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, West Virginia  TAMMY DUCKWORTH, Illinois
MIKE LEE, Utah                       JON TESTER, Montana
RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin               KYRSTEN SINEMA, Arizona
TODD C. YOUNG, Indiana               JACKY ROSEN, Nevada
RICK SCOTT, Florida
                       John Keast, Staff Director
               David Strickland, Minority Staff Director
               
               
               

                                                        Calendar No. 526
                                                       
116th Congress  }                                              {   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session     }                                              {  116-263

======================================================================



 
   CONTINUITY FOR OPERATORS WITH NECESSARY TRAINING REQUIRED FOR ATC 
                      CONTRACT TOWERS ACT OF 2019
                                _______
                                

               September 8, 2020.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

       Mr. Wicker, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
                Transportation, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 2898]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 2898) to amend title 5, United 
States Code, to provide for a full annuity supplement for 
certain air traffic controllers, having considered the same, 
reports favorably thereon without amendment and recommends that 
the bill do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

    The purpose of S. 2898, the Continuity for Operators with 
Necessary Training Required for ATC Contract Towers Act of 2019 
(CONTRACT Act of 2019), is to amend title 5 of United States 
Code to provide for a full annuity supplement for certain air 
traffic controllers.

                          Background and Needs

    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Federal Contract 
Tower (FCT) Program, established in 1982, allows the FAA to 
contract out the operation of certain low-activity ATC towers. 
Currently, 256 air traffic control (ATC) towers participate in 
the FCT Program. FAA controllers face mandatory retirement at 
age 56, and are eligible for retirement without a reduction in 
their basic annuity after either 25 years of service at any age 
or after 20 years of service if they are at least 50 years old. 
Historically, many retired FAA controllers continue their 
careers with towers within the FCT Program. However, under the 
Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), retired FAA air 
traffic control specialists under the age of 62 who receive a 
FERS supplement annually have an annuity offset penalty when 
they earn more than $17,640 annually (the Social Security 
earnings limit in the 2019 tax year) until they reach age 
62.\1\ This has resulted in fewer retired FAA controllers 
entering the hiring pool for the FCT Program, even though 
demand for FCT Program controllers continues to increase.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\See Tammy Flanagan, ``The FERS Supplement: Q&A,'' Government 
Executive, May 16, 2019 (https://www.govexec.com/pay-benefits/2019/05/
fers-supplement-q/157077/) (accessed Jun. 23, 2020).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 2016, President Obama signed Public Law 114-251, which 
exempted retired FAA air traffic controllers who serve as ATC 
instructors on-site at FAA facilities, including the FAA 
Academy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, from the Social Security 
annuity offset penalty. The CONTRACT Act of 2019 would expand 
this exemption to allow eligible retired FAA controllers to 
serve as controllers in the FCT Program without including an 
annuity offset penalty to ensure that there is a sufficient 
trained workforce to staff the FCT Program.

                         Summary of Provisions

    The CONTRACT Act of 2019 would allow retired air traffic 
controllers to receive an exemption from the supplement offset 
penalty in their FERS annuity if they work as controllers at an 
air traffic control (ATC) tower operated under the FAA FCT 
Program. Retired FAA air traffic controllers are currently 
authorized to receive this exemption if they work as ATC 
instructors on-site at the FAA's training academy or other 
facility.

                          Legislative History

    S. 2898 was introduced on November 19, 2019, by Senator 
Inhofe (for himself and Senators Moran and Murray) and was 
referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
Transportation of the Senate. There are 42 additional 
cosponsors. On December 11, 2019, the Committee met in open 
Executive Session and, by voice vote, ordered S. 2898 reported 
favorably without amendment.

                            Estimated Costs

    In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate and section 403 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee provides the 
following cost estimate, prepared by the Congressional Budget 
Office:




    Air traffic controllers employed by the Federal Aviation 
Administration (FAA) must retire by age 56--six years before 
reaching age 62, the age at which people can qualify for old-
age insurance benefits under title II of the Social Security 
Act. Depending on when they entered federal service, air 
traffic controllers earn retirement benefits either through the 
Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees 
Retirement System (FERS). Under current law, retired air 
traffic controllers covered by FERS who are younger than 62 
receive supplemental annuity payments if their incomes do not 
exceed $18,240. That income threshold is adjusted annually for 
inflation. For every $2 in earnings above the threshold, 
retirees' supplemental annuity benefits are reduced by $1. 
Those payments are disbursed from the Civil Service Retirement 
and Disability Fund and are recorded in the budget as direct 
spending. (CSRS retirees, whose benefit structure differs 
significantly from FERS retirees, are not eligible for such 
payments.)
    S. 2898 would exempt certain retired air traffic 
controllers from the income limit; thus, those air traffic 
controllers would receive full annuity supplements even if 
their income exceeded the statutory limit. Specifically, the 
bill would exempt those retired controllers covered by FERS who 
are also employed under federal contracts as controllers at FAA 
contract towers.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Contract towers are air traffic control towers that are staffed 
by private contractors instead of FAA employees.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    According to information from the FAA and industry groups, 
about 1,500 people are currently covered under such contracts, 
and about 10 percent of those contractors are FERS retirees who 
receive reduced supplemental annuity benefits because their 
earnings exceed the threshold. In recent years, the average 
annual benefit reduction for those retirees was about $10,000 
to $12,000. In general, the other contractors are either 
covered under CSRS, work part-time to ensure that their income 
remains below the threshold, or do not otherwise qualify for 
supplemental benefits.
    CBO assumes that the bill will be enacted in fiscal year 
2020. On that basis, and using the information from industry 
groups, CBO estimates that exempting retired air traffic 
controllers who work at FAA contract towers from the earnings 
limit would increase supplemental annuity payments, and thus 
direct spending, by an insignificant amount in 2020 and by a 
little more than $1.5 million each year over the 2021-2030 
period.
    The Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 establishes budget-
reporting and enforcement procedures for legislation affecting 
direct spending or revenues. The net changes in outlays that 
are subject to those pay-as-you-go procedures are shown in 
Table 1.

  TABLE 1.--CBO'S ESTIMATE OF THE STATUTORY PAY-AS-YOU-GO EFFECTS OF S. 2898, THE CONTRACT ACT OF 2019, AS ORDERED REPORTED BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON
                                               COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION ON DECEMBER 11, 2019
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                By fiscal year, millions of dollars--
                                           -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             2020    2021    2022    2023    2024    2025    2026    2027    2028    2029    2030   2020-2025  2020-2030
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               Net Increase in the Deficit
 
Pay-As-You-Go Effect......................       0       2       2       2       2       2       2       2       2       2       2         8         15
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Components do not sum to totals because of rounding.

    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Aaron Krupkin. 
The estimate was reviewed by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy 
Director of Budget Analysis.

                      Regulatory Impact Statement

    In accordance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides the 
following evaluation of the regulatory impact of the 
legislation, as reported:

                       number of persons covered

    The population of persons covered by S. 2898 is limited to 
certain retired FAA air traffic controllers serving as air 
traffic controllers under the Federal Contract Tower program.

                            economic impact

    S. 2898 is not anticipated to adversely impact the Nation's 
economy, as it enables retired FAA air traffic controllers 
working as air traffic controllers under the Federal Contract 
Tower program to not receive an annuity offset penalty.

                                privacy

    S. 2898 is not anticipated to have a negative impact on the 
privacy rights of individuals.

                               paperwork

    S. 2898 is not anticipated to require additional paperwork.

                   Congressionally Directed Spending

    In compliance with paragraph 4(b) of rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides that no 
provisions contained in the bill, as reported, meet the 
definition of congressionally directed spending items under the 
rule.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis


Section 1. Short title.

    This section would provide that the bill may be cited as 
the ``Continuity for Operators with Necessary Training Required 
for ATC Contract Towers Act of 2019'' or the ``CONTRACT Act of 
2019''.

Section 2. Annuity supplement.

    This section would amend title 5 of United States Code to 
allow eligible retired FAA air traffic controllers to receive 
an exemption from the FERS supplement annuity penalty if those 
controllers serve as air traffic controllers under the FAA's 
FCT Program.

                        Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
material is printed in italic, existing law in which no change 
is proposed is shown in roman):

UNITED STATES CODE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


TITLE 5--GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION AND EMPLOYEES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


PART III--EMPLOYEES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Subpart G--Insurance and Annuities

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 84--FEDERAL EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT SYSTEM

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



Subchapter II--Basic Annuity

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



Sec. 8421a. Reductions on account of earnings from work performed while 
                    entitled to an annuity supplement

  (a) * * *
  (b) * * *
  (c) This section shall not apply to an individual described 
in section 8412(e) during any period in which the individual, 
after separating from the service as described in that section, 
is employed [as an air traffic] as an--
          (1) air traffic control instructor, or supervisor 
        thereof, under contract with the Federal Aviation 
        Administration, including an instructor or supervisor 
        working at an on-site facility (such as an airport)[.]; 
        or
          (2) air traffic controller pursuant to a contract 
        made with the Secretary of Transportation under section 
        47124 of title 49.
  (d) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *