Legislative Activity

Senate Commerce Committee to Markup FAA Reauthorization

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will mark up the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S. 2658) this Wednesday, March 16. The bipartisan bill would reauthorize Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs through September 30, 2017. The text of the bill is available here.

Notably, the Senate’s FAA reauthorization bill does not include the controversial air traffic control (ATC) reform provisions from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s FAA reauthorization, the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act (H.R. 4441). The AIRR Act would remove ATC from FAA and transfer operation of air traffic services to a federally-chartered, not-for-profit corporation.

Despite substantial discussion of increasing allowable PFCs by $2.00, from the current maximum of $4.50 to $6.50, during negotiations over the Senate’s FAA reauthorization bill, the provision was ultimately left out of the introduced bill. However, the bill does provide an increase of $400 million in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding for FY 2017.

Additionally, the bill includes significant provisions intended to hasten the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System, streamline the current permitting process for commercial UAS operations, and ultimately expand allowable UAS operations. The bill also includes several UAS provisions related to privacy.

The bill also includes provisions related to aviation safety, streamlining the implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), and aircraft certification reform.

The current FAA authorization expires on March 31. Last week, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) introduced a short-term extension (H.R. 4721) that would authorize FAA programs through July 15, 2016, and extend the authority to collect aviation taxes through March 31, 2017, to provide time to pass a longer term reauthorization bill.

This Week’s Hearings:      

  • Tuesday, March 15: The House Appropriations Committee Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the FY 2017 budget for the Transportation Department and Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General.
  • Tuesday, March 15: The House Armed Services Committee Readiness Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “The U.S. Transportation Command FY 2017 Readiness Posture.”
  • Tuesday, March 15: The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Oversight Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “Racing to Regulate: EPA’s Latest Overreach on Amateur Drivers.”
  • Tuesday, March 15: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “The President’s FY 2017 Budget Request for Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Programs.”
  • Tuesday, March 15: The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing titled “Hands Off: The Future of Self-Driving Cars.”
  • Wednesday, March 16: The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a markup of S.2658, the “Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016”; and S.2644, the “FCC Reauthorization Act of 2016”; and votes on nomination for promotion in the United States Coast Guard.