The House of Representatives today has begun consideration of H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 – a bipartisan, five-year bill to reauthorize the programs of the Federal Aviation Administration, provide long-term stability for the Nation’s aviation community, invest in U.S. airports, and make necessary reforms to improve American competitiveness and safety in aviation. H.R. 4 reforms will also help communities across the country better prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against disasters of all kinds.
Visit the Committee’s pages on H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization Act, as well as the Disaster Recovery Reform Act, as included in H.R. 4.
The following are Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster’s (R-PA) prepared remarks for the beginning of today’s floor debate:
Thank you for calling up H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.
This bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by every chair and ranking member of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.
The bill is critical to our economy, to millions of Americans who work in aviation, and to hundreds of millions of Americans who use the system every year.
H.R. 4 authorizes FAA programs through FY 2023. This is a long-term bill – something that is overdue.
Too often, our aviation programs face short-term extensions, CRs, and threats of government shut-downs. We are now operating on the 5th extension of the last long-term FAA law – which was signed on Feb. 14, 2012. And before that bill was signed into law, Congress passed 23 short-term extensions. That is an incredible amount of uncertainty for programs that rely on long-term stability.
That uncertainty was one reason I initially pushed for air traffic control reform: to separate the modernization of our system from the unreliable federal budget process. In that regard, this bill only maintains the status quo.
I still strongly believe Congress must soon pass real air traffic control reform for the U.S. to finally develop the most modern, advanced aviation system in the world. Right now, we can’t make that claim. The more we delay, the more we risk losing our position as the world leader in aviation.
So while H.R. 4 does not contain all of the reforms our system needs, it does contain many other important reforms that must be implemented.
For example, this bill cuts red tape in the certification process, so our manufacturers can get products to market on time, stay competitive, and continue providing millions of American jobs.
It streamlines the regulatory process to encourage innovation in new technologies, like unmanned aircraft systems.
It provides critical funding for the AIP program and airport infrastructure across the country.
It strengthens protections for passengers.
And it addresses safety issues that have arisen in recent years.
This bill contains many good provisions, and I plan to offer a manager’s amendment that provides additional improvements. That includes an additional safety provision, in light of the April 17th Southwest Flight 1380 engine failure.
I want to commend pilot Tammie Jo Schults for her absolutely heroic performance after a catastrophic engine failure at over 30,000 feet. This was a prolonged emergency – not over in just a minute or two. For the next 15 to 20 minutes – with a hole in the cabin and believing that a passenger may have been completely sucked out – she calmly and expertly guided the plane to an emergency landing. Tragically, 1 person died in the incident, but 148 people are alive today because of Captain Shults and her crew. She prevented what could have been a much larger tragedy. In my opinion, this was one of the most heroic performances by a pilot and crew in recent memory.
Strengthening our aviation system is only one of the reasons we need to pass today’s legislation.
H.R. 4 also includes the Disaster Recovery Reform Act – a measure that passed the House in December with overwhelming support, but was not taken up in the Senate.
These provisions strengthen FEMA’s focus on pre-disaster mitigation: preparing our communities to better withstand the next hurricane, wildfire, flood, or other disaster.
Building better and building smarter will save lives, and lower the growing costs of disaster recovery. Investing more in mitigating disasters – before they strike – is common sense.
This bill is the result of the hard work of the Transportation Committee, the bill’s sponsors, and many others.
I want to thank Ranking Member DeFazio, Chairman LoBiondo, Ranking Member Larsen, Chairman Barletta, Ranking Member Titus, and the many other members who worked on this legislation.
I look forward to a good debate today and to moving this bill to the Senate.