Legislative Activity

Unclear How House Will Proceed on FAA Reauthorization

After the Senate overwhelmingly approved its Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization legislation on April 19 by a vote of 95 to 3, it remains unclear how the House will proceed on its own FAA reauthorization legislation, which continues to be stalled due to objections on both sides of the aisle to the contentious House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee proposal, the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act (H.R.4441), that would move air traffic control operations out of the FAA to a non-profit corporation.

House T&I Committee Chairman, Bill Shuster (R-PA) has very publicly said he will continue pushing for the air traffic control (ATC) reforms included in the AIRR Act, including in an op-ed recently published in The Hill newspaper. However, the proposal has faced significant opposition from House and Senate Democrats in addition to Republican Appropriators, and this week the Senate Appropriations Committee included language in the Committee Report accompanying the FY 2017 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill saying the Committee would prohibit any funding to implement any legislation removing air traffic control operations from the FAA.

The current FAA short-term reauthorization expires on July 15, 2016, giving Congress just a few months to reauthorize FAA programs. Further complicating the process is the shortened legislative schedule in the election year and the Senate’s current focus on passing Appropriations bills. Some have suggested another short-term reauthorization through the end of the year, and beyond the election, or through early next year is likely. The Senate’s FAA Reauthorization Act would reauthorize FAA programs through September 2017, while the AIRR Act would reauthorize programs through FY 2022.

Senate Appropriations Committee Passes THUD Appropriations Bill, Unclear When it Will Hit Senate Floor

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee passed the $56.5 billion FY 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations Act. It is unclear when the full Senate will consider the THUD Appropriations bill on the floor, though it is likely to be after the Senate considers the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill and the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill.

The Senate THUD Appropriations bill would provide $2.3 billion for the Capital Investment Grant program, which funds New Starts, Small Starts, and Core Capacity Improvement projects for transit systems, and $525 million for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, a $25 million increase over FY 2016.

The Committee followed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act’s treatment of Amtrak grants, splitting Amtrak funding into two accounts, one for the profitable Northeast Corridor and the other for the rest of the National Network. However, the Committee provided significantly lower funding for the Northeast Corridor, $345 million (the FAST Act authorized $469 M), and $1 billion for the National Network.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Wednesday, April 27: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing titled “Examining Management Practices and Misconduct at TSA (Transportation Security Administration): Part I.”
  • Wednesday, April 27: The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will vote on nominations for promotion in the United States Coast Guard and Andrew Read to be a member of the Marine Mammal Commission, and hold a markup of the following pieces of legislation:
    • 2644, the “FCC Reauthorization Act of 2016”;
    • 421, the “Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2015”;
    • 2607, the “Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things (DIGIT) Act”;
    • 2508, the “Youth Sports Concussions Act”;
    • 2829, the “Maritime Administration Authorization and Enhancement Act for FY2017”;
    • 2325, the “Digital Coast Act of 2015”;
    • 2817, the “Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act”; and
    • 787, the “NTIS Elimination Act.”
  • Thursday, April 28: The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a markup of the following pieces of legislation:
    • R.1887, to amend certain appropriation Acts to repeal the requirement directing the Administrator of General Services to sell Federal property and assets that support the operations of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in Plum Island, New York;
    • R.4743, the “National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium Act of 2016”; and
    • The “Airport Perimeter and Access Control Security Act of 2016.”