Legislative Activity

Congress to Vote on Short-Term FAA Reauthorization This Week

This week, Congress will vote on a short-term Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization that will reauthorize FAA programs through September 30, 2017. The short-term authorization includes some policy changes, but avoids many significant changes the House and Senate had been pursuing. While the Senate passed a long-term FAA reauthorization bill this year, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S. 2658), the House did not take up the bill reported out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act of 2016 (H.R. 4441). Both the House and Senate are expected to pass the highly-negotiated short-term extension, before FAA authorization expires on July 15.

The short-term extension does include provisions related to safety and security, as well as some unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) provisions. Among the policy changes, the bill will increase funding for bomb-sniffing dog teams, direct FAA to detect and mitigate UAS operation near airports, and require airlines to refund baggage fees if luggage is delayed or lost, among other provisions.

It appears that House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) successfully kept many policy changes out of the short-term extension, in order to keep pressure up on Congress to pass a long-term extension next year that includes Chairman Shuster’s controversial air traffic control reform proposal.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Tuesday, July 12, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security will hold a hearing titled “Intermodal and Interdependent: The FAST Act, the Economy, and Our Nation’s Transportation System.” The witnesses will be:
    • Patrick J. Ottensmeyer, Chief Executive Officer, Kansas City Southern Railway Company;
    • Major Jay Thompson, Arkansas Highway Police; President, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance;
    • David Eggermann, Supply Chain Manager, BASF; and
    • Stephen J. Gardner, Executive Vice President and Chief of NEC Business Development, Amtrak.
  • On Wednesday, July 13, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness will hold a hearing titled “NASA at a Crossroads: Reasserting American Leadership in Space Exploration.” The witnesses will be:
    • William H. Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator of Human Exploration and Operations, NASA;
    • Mary Lynne Dittmar, Executive Director, Coalition for Deep Space Exploration;
    • Mike Gold, Vice President of Washington Operations, SSL;
    • Mark Sirangelo, Vice President of Space Systems Group, Sierra Nevada Corporation; and
    • Professor Dan Dumbacher, Professor of Engineering Practice, Purdue University.
  • On Tuesday, July 12, the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development will hold a hearing titled “Public-Private Partnerships in Foreign Aid: Leveraging U.S. Assistance for Greater Impact and Sustainability.” The witnesses will be:
    • Eric G. Postel, Associate Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development; and
    • Daniel F. Runde, William A. Schreyer Chair and Director, Project on Prosperity and Development, Center for Strategic and International Studies.