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 ShusterLobbying firm cuts ties to Trent Lott amid national anti-racism protests Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm Ex-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR 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 DeFazioBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sets new vaccine mandate as COVID-19 cases surge Top Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure MORE (D-Ore.), Aviation Subcommittee ranking member Rick LarsenRichard (Rick) Ray LarsenFAA: New manufacturing issue discovered in undelivered Boeing 787 Dreamliners Newest Boeing 737 Max takes first test flight Democrats seek answers from Boeing, FAA after production issues with 737 Max, Dreamliner jets 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 PelosiOn The Money: Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released | Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Photos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris 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.