AIRR Act Delayed Amid ATC Reform Opposition
The House is unlikely to consider the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act on the floor this week amid opposition from Democrats, Republican appropriators, and some Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee. The AIRR Act would reauthorize Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs and reform the air traffic control (ATC) system by removing it from the FAA and placing it into a federally-chartered non-profit corporation. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) had originally planned to bring the bill to the floor this week, allowing the House to pass the AIRR Act and send it to the Senate before the end of February.
The Republican opposition is mostly to the ATC reform provisions, which would reduce the Congressional oversight role by taking the ATC system outside of the FAA, insulating it from the federal appropriations process, and removing some of the House Ways and Means Committee’s taxing authorities. Congressional Democrats also oppose the bill, and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio’s (D-OR) amendment, which would have removed ATC funding from the appropriations process but left ATC within the federal government, failed during the Committee’s markup of the bill on February 11.
Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) has said he wants to wait for the House to act on an FAA Reauthorization bill before the Senate begins to work on their reauthorization. The current FAA authorization expires on March 31, and Congress will likely need to pass a short-term extension to provide time to pass a long-term bill.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Tuesday, February 23: The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Passenger Rail: Opportunities and Challenges for the National Network.”
- Wednesday, February 24: The House Appropriations Committee Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “The Department of Transportation Budget.”
- Friday, February 26: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Transportation and Public Assets Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Oversight of Federal Vehicles.”