The Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 has achieved a potentially important milestone, with 67 senators, to date, signed on as co-sponsors of the bill to reform the third class medical process and provide legal protections for pilots facing FAA enforcement actions.
“This is certainly significant progress but it does not mean we are done,” said Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. “There are very few legislative days left in the year, and in the short term Congress is facing a potential government shutdown over funding for Planned Parenthood, the federal government is about to bump up against the debt ceiling, and Congress has been unable to get an FAA reauthorization bill to the floor, so we are going to see a six-month extension of current laws affecting the agency.
“Because the schedule is so tight, legislative leaders will want assurances that any bill that gets floor time won’t tie up the Senate or prevent other issues from being considered. Having more than 60 co-sponsors can help ensure that, if Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 makes it to the floor, there are enough votes to stop a filibuster and keep the process moving.”
Of course that’s no guarantee that lawmakers will be able to carve out time to bring Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 to a vote. And the Senate’s actions are only part of the equation. Both the Senate and the House must pass the legislation before it can be sent to the president and become law.
Nevertheless, the 67 Senate and 140 House co-sponsors are evidence that support for third class medical reform continues to grow. While AOPA’s legislative affairs team works daily to build support for Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, the association is also looking for other opportunities to pass medical reform language, possibly as part of another bill.
“The congressional schedule is something we can’t control and with so many issues demanding Congress’ attention before the end of the year, it’s impossible to say when we will see third class medical reform and exactly what it will look like,” said Coon. “But having a solid majority of bipartisan Senators signed on as Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 co-sponsors marks significant progress toward winning reform, and we’ll keep doing everything we can to get the very best deal possible for the general aviation community just as quickly as possible.”