House passes 5-year reauthorization of Federal Aviation Administration

House passes 5-year reauthorization of Federal Aviation Administration
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The House on Friday passed a five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), providing the agency with a long-term fix following two recent short-term funding patches.

The lower chamber voted 393-13 on the legislation, introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill ShusterWilliam (Bill) Franklin ShusterExiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch GOP struggles to win votes for Trump’s B wall demand House and Senate negotiators reach agreement on water infrastructure bill MORE (R-Pa.), who earlier this year dropped his long-held push to privatize the air traffic control system.

The bill provides the FAA with funding through the 2023 fiscal year and follows a six-month extension for the agency in last month’s omnibus spending package.

The reauthorization, considered a must-pass bill, garnered bipartisan support, with backing from ranking member Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioThis is your captain speaking: We can’t allow another government shutdown Aviation groups push bill that would fund FAA during shutdown With highway funding in decline, mileage-based fees offer a solution MORE (D-Ore.), Aviation Subcommittee ranking member Rick LarsenRichard (Rick) Ray LarsenAviation groups push bill that would fund FAA during shutdown Transportation Department watchdog to examine airplane cabin evacuation standards Dems win nail-biter in charity congressional soccer game MORE (D-Wash.) and other Democratic members on the House Transportation and Infrastructure panel.

The FAA bill includes a disaster relief provision that makes changes to FEMA and the Stafford Act. The language, which passed the House in December, aims to help improve infrastructure and preparation to handle natural disasters.

While the legislation easily passed the lower chamber, some measures faced opposition from Democrats. 

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House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiConstitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration Why don't we build a wall with Canada? MORE (D-Calif.) urged her colleagues to vote against two trucking amendments in a letter earlier this week. This included a bipartisan amendment put forward by Reps. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.) that seeks to refine regulations on meals and rest periods for truckers.

Denham’s amendment, which passed Thursday with 222 votes, works to clarify rules within the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 about meals and rest periods for truckers and would direct motor carriers subject to the Department of Transportation's meal and rest regulations to follow those rules before state regulations.

Dave Manning, the chairman of the American Trucking Association, praised the amendment’s passage in a Thursday statement.

“Our industry’s trucks routinely cross state lines to deliver America’s food, fuel, medicine and other essential goods,” Manning said.

“Today’s vote is a key step in making sure the interstate supply chain continues to run safely and efficiently and without a hodgepodge of confusing and duplicative state rules.”

Meanwhile, debate on the reauthorization also unfolded amid a renewed focus on aviation safety after a passenger died earlier this month when a piece of an engine broke off a Southwest aircraft mid-flight, breaking a window and requiring an emergency landing.

The incident has garnered attention and concern from lawmakers, including Shuster, who in his manager’s amendment included language that will require the FAA to conduct an engine safety review and present a report to the committee.

Shuster’s amendment will also require the FAA’s chief operating officer to provide both his House panel and the Senate Commerce Committee with a report on efforts to “modernize the air transportation system” within six months of the bill’s passage.