Next week will likely prove to be an important week for FAA reauthorization efforts in the House and Senate.
Committee staff on both sides of the Capitol are busy working on their respective FAA reauthorization bills. It is possible that House or Senate committee leaders will release the text of their respective FAA reauthorization bills next week. Both House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) have said they would like their committees to consider FAA legislation before the July 4th recess - which is only two weeks away.
Chairman Shuster is expected to again call for separating the air traffic control system from the FAA and housing it in an independent, not-for-profit, non-governmental entity. That controversial proposal helped sink Shuster's FAA bill last year after it drew wide-ranging opposition from Democrats, key Republicans in the House and Senate, and general aviation groups and their allies on Capitol Hill. Chairman Thune has said that the Senate FAA measure will not include the ATC proposal because it does not have enough support.
Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), a pilot and a vocal supporter of general aviation, indicated that Shuster is taking steps to address the concerns of the GA community over the ATC proposal. Graves was one of two Republicans to vote against the FAA bill last year when it was marked up at the Transportation Committee, arguing that it would unfairly harm general aviation.
"It's getting a lot better," Graves said this week of negotiations over the House FAA measure. "I'm more optimistic than I've been," he said. Graves did not provide details of any potential changes to the bill.
As lawmakers gear up to consider FAA legislation, AAAE and airports continue to urge Congress and the Administration to eliminate the federal cap on local Passenger Facility Charges, address the pilot shortage and adopt other airport priorities.