Legislation to reauthorize funding for the Federal Aviation Administration appears to be stalled on Capitol Hill as legislators begin wrapping up ahead of the August Congressional recess.
According to the American Association of Airport Executives, an FAA reauthorization bill is not currently on the House of Representatives schedule for next week. The House is scheduled to start the traditional August recess after wrapping up next week’s session, and lawmakers will not return to Washington until early September.
“Despite furious lobbying in support of the FAA bill by House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and his allies, it appears that there are not enough votes at this time to pass the measure,” AAAE said in a notice on its website. “The House Rules Committee had planned to consider the bill this week. But that timeline has slipped as proponents and opponents of air traffic control corporatization continue to pressure House lawmakers.”
While the ATC issue is at the forefront, industry lobbyists are also frustrated by the lack of focus on funding for infrastructure development.
On Wednesday, Airports Council International – North America came out in opposition to what has been dubbed the 21st Century AIRR Act (H.R. 2997) because the bill lacks solutions for airport infrastructure needs.
“Airports Council International – North America opposes the 21st Century AIRR Act so long as it does not include the ability for airports to fund critically needed infrastructure projects,” said ACI-NA president and CEO Kevin Burke. “Airports proposed a fix – modernizing the Passenger Facility Charge user fee – that would have allowed us to address our $100 billion in essential airport infrastructure needs without costing federal taxpayers a single penny. Unfortunately, this provision was not included in this bill, nor in any other provision seriously addressing airport infrastructure.”
Burke also noted that while the bill contained a small increase to the Airport Improvement Program, it’s not enough to sustain the industry’s long-term airport infrastructure needs.
Separately on Wednesday, AAAE noted that “we appear to be headed for yet another extension.” The trade group reiterated its support for an adjustment to the PFC cap. Other priorities include increased funding for the Airport Improvement Program, a meaningful seat at the table as part of any entity that will oversee air traffic control operations, protection for the long-term viability of the Contract Tower Program and progress to address the pilot shortage.
“It is our hope that Congress and the Administration in the months ahead will find a way to provide more clarity – and progress on meeting promised infrastructure investments – than has been yielded to date in 2017,” AAAE said.