House passage of Federal Aviation Administration legislation with strong bipartisan support may help press the Senate to move its own measure.
The FAA bill (H.R. 4), passed 393 to 13 today, would reauthorize the agency’s drone test ranges, expand its noise mitigation work and bar airlines from bumping passengers involuntarily from flights once they have boarded, among other provisions. Programs would be authorized through 2023; the current authorization expires Sept. 30.
Democrats supported the bill even while opposing provisions such as one, backed by the trucking industry, that would pre-empt state and local laws that limit the hours a trucker can drive. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee ranking member Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), who voted for the bill despite misgivings about language he felt was overly broad, told reporters he hopes to address trucking and other issues in negotiations with the Senate.
“I wish we’d done it two-and-a-half years ago and we could have, absent the extended, protracted debate over privatizing the national air space,” DeFazio said to reporters about the bill’s passage. He wants to see the authorization enacted before September, he said in a statement.
Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters he is working to get floor time. When asked about bringing the bill to the floor next month, he said that “would be nice.”
“We can’t do an extension,” he told Bloomberg Government before leaving town for recess.
SENATE BILL SOON?
The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved an FAA reauthorization bill (S. 1405) by voice vote on June 29, 2017. It includes a provision to modify pilot training requirements, generally referred to as the 1,500 hour rule, which isn’t included in the House measure and is opposed by some Democrats, including Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Thune introduced S. 1405 on June 22, 2017, with ranking member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and the heads of the aviation subcommittee.
Nelson and aviation subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) each want to take up the FAA bill “soon,” they told Bloomberg Government in separate interviews.
“We’ll have a manager’s amendment and obviously we’ll have to deal with the 1,500 hour rule,” Thune said when asked about the Senate process and changes that might be needed. Thune previously indicated he would consider dropping the pilot provision, but hasn’t yet.
“If and when we get it to the floor there will be lots of opportunities to negotiate provisions in the bill, things people want dropped out, things people want to add,” Thune said today.
He’d said he would like to get the bill to the president’s desk before the August recess. There are 44 working days between from when the Senate returns from the April recess to when it leaves for the August recess.
Article produced by Bloomberg Government.