Full Committee Markup (June 13-14, 2023)
2167 Rayburn House Office Building
Opening remarks, as prepared, of Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) and Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Garret Graves from today’s full Committee markup of H.R. 3935, the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act, bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and aviation safety and infrastructure programs for the next five years:
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves
The Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act is a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Nation’s aviation safety and infrastructure programs for the next five years. I want to thank Ranking Member Rick Larsen, Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Garret Graves, and Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Steve Cohen for working with me to develop and introduce this bill, especially given our tight deadline for getting a bill to the President’s desk before the current law expires in September.
For over a century, the United States has led the world in aviation safety and innovation. Unfortunately, our Gold Standard status is being threatened by increasing global competition, rapid developments in technology, a shortage of aviation professionals, and FAA inefficiency and lack of leadership.
Today’s bill is critical to keeping America the global leader in aviation. It’s vital to our economy, to millions of jobs, and to the 850 million passengers that depend on our aviation system every year.
Passing this bill will provide necessary long-term certainty for all facets of the Nation’s aviation system. This bill will ensure robust investment in this critical infrastructure for airports of all sizes, including smaller and General Aviation airports.
This bill also improves the FAA’s efficiency through reasonable organizational reforms and restructuring. The FAA is simply too slow in everything it does – from rulemakings to aircraft registrations and certifications, to just simple paperwork. It’s becoming more and more impossible to get FAA to “yes” on any decision or, frankly, even provide a decision, and this bill makes the agency more agile in a manner that won’t harm its safety mission.
I’m proud to say that our bill includes the first ever General Aviation (GA) title. GA is foundational to our aviation system. It’s where many of our pilots, mechanics, and others begin their careers, gaining valuable experience on their path to professions throughout the industry.
This bill recognizes the importance of GA and strengthens this key pillar of our system. As I mentioned, growing shortages in our aviation workforce are a true threat to the future of American aviation. In this bill, we address this threat with proposals to remove barriers to entry for aviation careers and encourage growth in the aviation workforce.
The Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act also takes steps to maintain our global leadership in aviation when it comes to the development and integration of new and emerging technologies into the airspace. Our bill spurs the agency to stop the endless testing and pilot programs that go nowhere, and to move forward with integrating innovations such as drones and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM).
Air travel is steadily recovering from the COVID pandemic, and we are again approaching the one-billion annual passengers mark. Unfortunately, this renewed growth in air travel has come with many difficulties for the traveling public. Our bill includes an entire title dedicated to improving the flying experience for Americans and other flyers.
Finally, and most importantly, this bill recognizes that while our aviation system is safe, we must never stop trying to improve. The bill includes a number of safety-focused provisions to ensure that America continues to be the world’s Gold Standard in aviation safety.
One of the most important safety features of this bill is the title for a five-year reauthorization of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) – the independent Federal agency that investigates all civil aviation accidents, as well as other significant transportation accidents.
Today’s bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation this Committee will consider this Congress, and I look forward to the coming debate today. I again want to thank Ranking Members Larsen and Cohen, Chairman Graves, and all the Members who submitted ideas for this comprehensive, bipartisan bill. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation and I yield back.
Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Garret Graves
We often say that the aviation system in the United States is the gold standard of aviation safety worldwide. It is – and even though we must maintain that gold standard of safety, we have to make sure that we’re maintaining the gold standard in other areas of innovation as well.
Over the past several months we’ve held multiple hearings to prepare to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration– ensuring our workforce capabilities, improving the passenger experience, supporting new entrants into the market, strengthening General Aviation, and of course, increasing aviation safety. That work, in addition to bipartisan cooperation, has resulted in the legislation we are here to consider today.
At 800 pages, this is the most comprehensive aviation legislation this committee has ever introduced. I want to thank the majority and minority staff members who prepared for all these hearings, digested nearly 2,000 unique stakeholder and member requests, and worked on a bipartisan basis through many sleepless nights to make this bill a reality, as well as a success. I also want to thank Chairman Sam Graves, Ranking Member Rick Larsen, Ranking Member Steve Cohen for their partnership and all the members of our committee for their input.
Right now, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is organized to support the aviation system of the 1970s, instead of preparing us for what we need to be thinking about: the year 2050. The bill also makes significant changes for new entrants, including recognizing the tremendous opportunities that exist for innovators in the United States. But that means we have to ensure that we can continue leading the world in safely integrating these technologies into our airspace.
We establish an advisory council to think about the passenger experience from curb-to-curb, departure to destination: parking, baggage check, security, dealing with air traffic disruptions, and everything else that makes up the consumer experience. We need to increase transparency when air traffic control encounters challenges, improve the technologies that support the safety and efficiency of air travel, ensure we have the workforce to meet the demand for our entire aviation system.
Historically, this bill introduces the first General Aviation title to an FAA Reauthorization to support non-commercial service aviation needs. It makes significant improvements to permitting and efficiency, building on our past successes to reform the National Environmental Policy Act in the Fiscal Responsibility Act. Lastly, it reauthorizes the National Transportation Safety Board which has done a great job to maintain a laser focus on safety in some very challenging instigations in recent years.
This legislation will ensure that as we move forward, we can facilitate improvements in our national airspace and ensure a regulatory structure that is more certain and predictable, ensuring that the United States can continue to be set the gold standard both for safety and as the global leader in aviation innovation.