Oct 03 2018

Shelby: Senate Passes Reauthorization Bill to Improve Nationwide Aviation Programs

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today released the following statement regarding the passage of H.R. 302, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018, by a vote of 93 – 6.  The bill reauthorizes federal aviation programs to modernize airport infrastructure, improve service for the flying public, enhance safety and security, and boost aviation industry innovation.  The measure also provides $1.68 billion in supplemental appropriations for disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Florence.  Following Senate passage, the bill will now move to President Trump’s desk for his signature.

“This bipartisan legislation prioritizes airport infrastructure improvements, public safety, and enhanced security methods,” said Senator Shelby.  “The bill also provides critical disaster recovery funding for victims of Hurricane Florence.  This action is a major step forward for the entire aviation industry, and I am confident that this reauthorization will continue to advance our nation’s transportation and infrastructure capabilities, while also assisting in disaster relief during an urgent time of need.”

This five-year authorization is the longest enacted since 1982.  Passed in the House by a vote of 398 – 23, the legislation is a product of bipartisan, bicameral negotiations.  The measure allows for various improvements to federal aviation programs and reauthorizes the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). 

The comprehensive bill helps to modernize infrastructure by providing resources for airport development updates, increasing flexibility to finance projects, and requiring TSA to make available real-time information on security line waits.  In regard to improving service for the flying public, the legislation prohibits involuntary bumps of passengers who have already boarded, directs FAA to set minimum standards for airline seat sizes, requires private rooms for nursing mothers, and ensures airlines promptly return fees for services not received – such as seat assignments and early boarding.  Enhancements to safety and security include strengthening aviation training, providing new risk-mitigation authorities for unmanned aircraft systems, and authorizing more canine security teams.  In an effort to boost innovation, the measure streamlines certifications for design and delivery of aircraft to boost competitiveness of manufacturing and furthers efforts to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into the airspace through traffic management system advancements and research.

Additionally, the $1.68 billion included in supplemental appropriations provides a down payment on assistance to communities affected by Hurricane Florence and includes important reforms to Federal Emergency Management Agency programs to help communities better prepare for and respond to disasters of all types. 

The legislation will also combine the U.S. foreign assistance agencies to ensure they remain effective and efficient while ensuring stability and preventing risk.  Further, the bill will help modernize business investments in low or lower-middle income countries.