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Durbin Plan Would Essentially Kill Attempt To Sell Midway

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Midway Airport

The Southwest Airlines check-in area at Midway Airport. (2008 File Photo; Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A deal to privatize Midway Airport may be off the table now, but a proposal from U.S.  Sen. Dick Durbin would probably kill it indefinitely.

Newsradio 780’s Nancy Harty reports,  Durbin stood inside a Midway terminal on Friday and said federal taxpayers have invested heavily–to the tune of $380 million–in the airport over the years.

And, if the city wants to sell it, the federal government should get some of that money.

“We have $380 million in federal dollars in this airport and its runways. If a decision is made, I think the federal taxpayers have a lien on the value of this airport today,” Durbin said.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Nancy Harty Reports

“The federal government has the right to step in to any privatization and to basically veto it.  ”

The Democrat has introduced a bill that would force state and local governments to repay federal funds they have received for certain projects if those assets are sold or leased to private groups.

Durbin said he doesn’t know the future of Midway privatization, but said his bill would essentially kill several potential transactions.

Aldermen approved leasing the airport in 2008, but the deal fell apart after the city could not secure financing.

“We’re running out of thing to pawn,” Ald. Ed Burke, chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee, told CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine.

Burke says the city should restructure its debt and take a “long, hard look” at the money it pays to employee pension funds.

A spokesman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the mayor is not interested in selling the airport.

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