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 Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee Chairman Lou Barletta’s (R-PA) prepared remarks for the beginning of today’s floor debate:
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, which includes provisions of my bill, the Disaster Recovery Reform Act.
Unfortunately, this is the second time my bill has been considered on the House floor, because our colleagues on the other side of the Capitol refuse to take up these critical reforms. I find the failure to move in the Senate puzzling, especially given that many of those individuals represent states struggling to recover from recent disasters.
In fact, in 2017, eight percent of the U.S. population was affected by at least one disaster. This statistic highlights the importance of investing in mitigation infrastructure before tragedy strikes, which is exactly what my bill would do.
Studies have repeatedly shown that for every $1 invested up front, we can save $4 to $8 in avoided recovery costs. My bill would allow us to realize those savings by transforming how we approach disaster spending. It would provide FEMA with the tools to help our communities plan for, mitigate against, respond to, and recover from disasters.
Both Republicans and Democrats in this chamber already recognized the critical need for these reforms. The Disaster Recovery Reform Act passed out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee by voice vote, and in December, passed on the House floor.
It is my hope that this time, our colleagues in the Senate will stop playing politics with people’s lives and will act quickly to send this bill to the president’s desk.
I know just how important disaster assistance is because in 2011, my own district was devastated by flooding from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. I visited with the families and employers affected by this tragedy, and it made me realize we need to do something to help communities build better and smarter before disaster strikes. My bill will do just that.
I thank Chairman Shuster and my House colleagues for their continued commitment to making resiliency a priority.
I would also like to thank the Chairman for including language I offered with my friend from Missouri, Mr. Graves, in the manager’s amendment. Our amendment would create a new grant program for airport infrastructure investment. I believe it is critical we invest in our airports, which are some of the largest economic drivers in the country.
We have an obligation to ensure this entire system, including everything from large hubs to regional airports, is maintained and improved to better serve the American people.
While I was disappointed that our original committee-adopted amendment to increase funding levels for the Airport Improvement Program was not included in the final bill, I am hopeful that this grant will give airports a new infrastructure tool in their toolbox.
Again, I urge passage of H.R. 4, and I yield back the balance of my time.