Now it's the House's turn to consider what to do with National and Dulles. Unfortunately, some distracting proposals are still in the air. solution: it's the Senate-passed bill, one enjoying strong bipartisan support, to lease the two airports to a regional public authority. sk,2 Rep. Norman Mineta of California, whose aviation subcommittee will hold hearings next week, has proposed would a federal corporation to operat1696595969National and Dulles. It would have the power to issue bonds for improvements. But why create a whole new federal subsidiary to run two airports that could be financed, operated and improved more efficiently under lease to a regional authority with representation from Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland and the federal government? Any election-conscious member of Congress should be particularly wary of proposals to keep the federal government in costly businesses unnecessarily.
Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland has been talking about a hybrid proposal to transfer only National to a regional authority -- with equal representation from Maryland and Virginia -- and to give control of Dulles to Virginia. All of this, presumably, would please those Maryland lawmakers who keep claiming that the booming Baltimore-Washington International Airport somehow couldn't compete with Dulles unless Dulles and National were sent in two different bureaucratic directions. But it isn't as if BWI were being ignored or discriminated against; long ago, offers were made to include BWI as part of the regional authority arrangement. That's a reasonable suggestion that Maryland politicians seem reluctant to recognize.
There have been still other suggestions to sell the two airports to the highest private bidders. That would risk setting up a management more interested in business than in public service.
One of the worst ideas would be to do nothing. If the House doesn't act before this Congress adjourns, the federal government will be stuck with huge bills for a long time. The prudent and frugal vote in the House is for approval of the bill that passed the Senate 62 to 28. Mr. Maneta's subcommittee should move that process along.