The focus on FAA reauthorization is moving to the Senate as controversial House legislation to privatize air traffic control services is taken out of play.
“FAA reauthorization legislation that passed out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Feb. 11 was beset by concerns from the aviation industry, partisan struggles, and jurisdictional questions before being set aside this week,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “Medical and certification reforms, long-term funding for projects like modernization, airports, and unleaded fuels—these are the issues that matter to the general aviation community. Throughout this process AOPA has made it clear that we won’t accept user fees in any form on any segment of general aviation and that third-class medical reform remains a top priority.”
Leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee have said they are developing their own FAA reauthorization legislation, which is expected to be introduced and marked up in the next few weeks, with floor time before the full Senate anticipated sometime in April.
The new legislation will not include privatization measures or user fees but is expected to include medical reform language similar to that passed by the Senate in December. In the meantime, AOPA continues to lead the effort to build support for third class medical reform, and continues to win new cosponsors to help push passage in the House for the already Senate-passed Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, S. 571, so it can be sent to the President for signature as soon as possible.
The FAA has already received one short-term extension of its funding through March 31. Both the House and the Senate have indicated they will approve another short-term extension before that deadline, possibly carrying the agency into June and giving Congress time to work out the details of a more comprehensive longer-term bill.
“Steady funding for the FAA is important not only for day-to-day operations but for maintaining progress on big initiatives like NextGen modernization and the move to unleaded aviation fuel,” said Baker. “Lawmakers understand this and AOPA will keep working with both houses of Congress to ensure that final legislation reflects those needs and protects the future of general aviation.”