WASINGTON Charlotte Mayor Foxx made his annual pilgrimage to Washington Tuesday to visit with Charlotte-area representatives in Congress and ask for their support on various federal funding projects – including a new air traffic control tower at Charlotte Douglas International.
Foxx also answered questions about the proposal in the N.C. General Assembly to turn ownership of Charlotte’s airport over to a state-appointed authority.
In the morning, Foxx met with Sens. Richard Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican, and Kay Hagan, a Greensboro Democrat, as well as Reps. Mel Watt, a Charlotte Democrat and Rep. Richard Hudson, a Concord Republican, and Robert Pittenger, a Charlotte Republican.
Foxx sought their support in garnering needed FAA commitments and funding to build a new control tower at the airport to allow for greater future growth. Foxx also asked about funding for a new federal courthouse in uptown, and for support on building out the Lynx Blue Line.
It’s a tough time to be requesting money in Washington, as the federal government faces an automatic round of across-the-board budget cuts that will eventually reduce federal spending by $85 billion through Oct. 1.
Pittenger expressed caution.
“We’re in a budget crunch right now,” Pittenger told the Observer after meeting with Foxx. “Sequester, we’re unfortunately in that debacle….
“We’ll just have to see where the road ends in terms of what funding capacities that there are going to be,” said Pittenger.
Foxx understands that it’s a tough time to be asking for money, but he said Charlotte needs to move forward.
“We need to define our future now,” he said. Foxx also shared his concerns about state efforts to take control of the Charlotte airport and put it under the power of an airport authority.
“I am a little concerned that the issues in Raleigh over the airport governance could delay or put an end to some of these discussions for the time being,” he said, “and I’m up here partly to keep that dialogue going.”
Foxx said members of Congress were understanding of the airport controversy, but did not appear to want to get involved.
“Everyone up here sort of takes it as a local issue and I don’t think anyone’s going to get their hands in the middle of this one,” Foxx said.
Pittenger said the airport controversy is a local matter. However, he said he doesn’t believe it would have any impact on funding for the air traffic control tower.
Foxx said he was pleased to hear Gov. Pat McCrory say on Monday that the legislation authorizing a Charlotte Airport Authority should be slowed down. Foxx said he hopes that the General Assembly listens to the governor.