Legislative Activity

FAA Reauthorization Deadline a Month Away

The current short-term Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) extension expires on July 15, leaving just over a month for Congress to pass a short-term extension or a long term reauthorization bill. While the Senate passed its reauthorization, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 (H.R. 636), by an overwhelming majority, the House has had more difficulty passing its own reauthorization, the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act (H.R. 4441).

While Senate Commerce, Justice, and Transportation Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL) have called for the House to take up the Senate’s reauthorization bill, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) has repeatedly said he does not want to pass either a short-term extension or the Senate’s reauthorization bill.

Reportedly, Chairman Shuster has been involved in recent conversations with House Transportation Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR) about how the House should proceed. Both Transportation Committee leaders believe the AIRR Act contains significant provisions that should be included in any long-term reauthorization, both are unwilling to take up and pass the Senate’s bill, and both believe Congress should not rely on short-term extensions of FAA programs.

It remains unclear, however, whether Chairman Shuster would be willing to abandon his controversial provision moving air traffic control to a private non-profit corporation in order to get a long-term reauthorization by July 15. Relatedly, this week the House Transportation Committee will hold a hearing to review ATC hiring, staffing, and training plans.

Congress will have to act in some form by July 15 in order to keep FAA programs running, and pressure to advance at least the aviation security portions of FAA reauthorization has increased amid long Transportation Security Administration security checkpoint lines and a record number of air travelers expected this summer.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Tuesday, June 14: House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation will hold a hearing titled “Coast Guard Mission Needs and Resources Allocation.” The witnesses will be announced.
  • Tuesday, June 14: Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies will hold a markup of the Fiscal Year 2017 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill.
  • Tuesday, June 14: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to examine oil and gas pipeline infrastructure and the economic, safety, environmental, permitting, construction, and maintenance considerations associated with that infrastructure. The witnesses will be:
    • Andrew Black, President, Association of Oil Pipe Lines
    • Ross Eisenberg;
    • Sean McGarvey, President, North America’s Building Trades Unions;
    • Paul W. Parfomak, Specialist in Energy and Infrastructure Policy, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress; and
    • N. Jonathan Peress, Air Policy Director – Natural Gas, Environmental Defense Fund.
  • Tuesday, June 14: Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight will hold an oversight hearing to examine the EPA’s progress in implementing Inspector General and Government Accountability Office recommendations. The witnesses will be announced.
  • Wednesday, June 15: House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Subcommittee on Aviation will hold a hearing titled “A Review of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Traffic Controller Hiring, Staffing and Training Plans.” The witnesses will be announced.
  • Wednesday, June 15: House Appropriations Committee will hold a markup of the Fiscal Year 2017 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill.
  • Wednesday, June 15: Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold an executive session to consider the following legislation measures and pending nominations:
    • 2283, Small Business Broadband Deployment Act of 2015;
    • 1490, Seniors Fraud Prevention Act of 2015;
    • 3038, Coastal Coordination Act of 2016;
    • Nominations for promotion in the Coast Guard:
      • Rear Adm. Marshall B. Lytle III, U.S. Coast Guard;
      • Vice Adm. Fred M. Midgette, U.S. Coast Guard; and
    • Nomination of Rebecca F. Dye, of North Carolina, to be a Federal Maritime Commissioner (reappointment).
  • Wednesday, June 15: the House Science, Space and Technology Committee Subcommittee on Energy will hold a hearing titled “Innovation in Solar Fuels, Electricity Storage, and Advanced Materials.” The witnesses will be:
    • Nate Lewis, Professor, California Institute of Technology;
    • Daniel Scherson, Professor, Case Western Reserve University;
    • Collin Broholm, Professor, Johns Hopkins University; and
    • Daniel Hallinan Jr., Assistant professor, Florida A&M University – Florida State University College of Engineering.