House passes FAA reauthorization act, sets minimum legroom for flights


The House passed the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act Wednesday, which extends funding for the agency for five years and includes provisions intended to benefit passengers such as creating minimum legroom requirements on commercial flights.

The legislation provides funding and puts in place new safety regulations, including changes to the rest and duty rules for pilots and flight attendants.

Besides creating minimum dimensions for legroom on commercial flights, the bipartisan legislation also bans airlines from involuntarily removing passengers after boarding. It also requires airlines to improve communication with customers on flight cancellations and groundings.

The measure includes language that reauthorizes the National Transportation Safety Board and aims to enhance transparency in safety failures, while updating safety recommendations.

In addition to appropriating funds to the agency and attempting to reform aviation-related matters, the bill also provides $1.68 billion in disaster relief for areas impacted by Hurricane Florence, which supplements the $8.8 billion in disaster recovery included in the minibus spending bill also expected to be passed in the House Wednesday.

The measure also includes the BUILD Act, which would dramatically increase funding for global development and infrastructure projects. A provision related to sports medicine licensing provides protection for medical professionals working with athletes and teams across state lines.

House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) praised the year-long bipartisan efforts on the Stafford Act language in the bill.

“It includes key changes to the Stafford Act that I’ve been working on with [Majority Leader Kevin] McCarthy and [Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee Rob] Bishop for many, many months. I advocated for over the past year to permit federal disaster aid funding to be used to not only reconstruct what stood before, but to build to 21st century standards,” he said on the floor.

“Importantly, the bill puts an emphasis on pre-disaster mitigation. The emphasis is on actions taken to lessen the impact of future disasters.”

The Senate has until Sept. 30 to pass legislation before the current measure expires.

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