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Chairmen Sam Graves and Garret Graves Statements from House Floor Debate on Bipartisan FAA Bill

Washington, D.C., July 19, 2023 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446
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Opening remarks, as prepared, by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) and Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Garret Graves (R-LA) from debate in the House of Representatives on H.R. 3935, the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act:

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves

H.R. 3935, 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 Transportation and Infrastructure Committee 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 legislation.

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 inefficiencies and a lack of leadership at the FAA. 

H.R. 3935 is critical to keeping America the global leader in aviation. It’s vital to our economy, to millions of American jobs, and to the 850 million passengers that depend on our National Airspace System every year. If Congress fails to act on a new long-term aviation measure by September 30th, when the current FAA law expires, key aviation programs will cease to function.

H.R. 3935 provides the necessary long-term certainty that is demanded by both the civil aviation system and the aviation community to guarantee its safety and prosperity for decades to come. This bill not only improves the FAA’s efficiency through reasonable organizational reforms but makes the agency more agile while simultaneously prioritizing safety each step of the way. The FAA is simply too slow in everything it does – from rulemakings to aircraft registrations, and from certifications to just simple paperwork. 

This bill ensures robust investment in infrastructure for airports of all sizes, including the thousands of smaller and General Aviation (GA) airports that make up the bulk of our aviation system. And I’m proud to say, our bill includes the first-ever General Aviation title in a FAA reauthorization bill.

GA is foundational to our civil aviation system. It’s where many of our pilots, mechanics, and other aviation professionals begin their careers, gaining valuable experience along their journey in the aviation industry. This bill recognizes the importance of GA and protects the freedom to fly for every American.

As previously mentioned, growing shortages across the aerospace workforce are a true threat to the future of American aviation. H.R. 3935 addresses workforce challenges head on by removing barriers to entry for individuals and veterans interested in pursuing careers in aviation, such as through the CAREER program.

Bottom line, our bill encourages growth in the aviation workforce through the most meaningful reforms in decades.

What’s more, H.R. 3935 maintains American leadership when it comes to the development and integration of new and emerging technologies into the airspace, such as drones and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). Specifically, this bill requires the FAA to stop endless testing and pilot programs that go nowhere and to integrate innovations such as drones and AAM into the National Airspace System.

As air travel recovers from the COVID pandemic, renewed growth in air travel has come with some difficulties for the traveling public. Our bipartisan bill includes an entire title dedicated to improving the flying experience for the traveling public – an issue that each of our offices hears about from constituents almost daily.

Finally, and most importantly, this bill recognizes that while our aviation system is safe, we must continue raising the bar for safety.  As such, this 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 and other transportation accidents.

I believe the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act is one of the most important pieces of legislation this body will consider in the 118th Congress. This bill is vital to America’s airport infrastructure, to our economy, and to the future of American leadership in aviation.

I urge my colleagues to support this legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time.

Click here to watch Chairman Sam Graves’ remarks.

Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Garret Graves

Mr. Chairman, the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act reflects over 2,000 unique requests from Members of Congress, the flying public, and aviation stakeholders. This legislation resulted from hundreds of meetings and dozens of hearings dating back years. Ultimately, this effort yielded a bill of more than 840 pages and is the most comprehensive aviation reauthorization the House has ever considered. Most importantly, Mr. Chairman, this legislation passed the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee with unanimous bipartisan support.

This legislation takes important steps to ensure continuity and consistency within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It makes fundamental organizational changes by updating a 1970s organizational structure for the needs of today and tomorrow alike. It establishes multiple positions, such as the Deputy Administrator for Safety and Operations and the Assistant Administrator for Rulemaking and Regulatory Improvement. It establishes an Office of Innovation, an FAA Ombudsman, and many other important changes in the organizational structure of this antiquated and slow-moving agency.

Mr. Chairman, this legislation is also focused on the passenger experience. It puts in perspective the experience of families that are parking in satellite parking lots, taking a shuttle to their terminal, checking bags and going through security, dealing with concessionaires at the airport, getting on the airplane, and then doing it all again in the other direction to get back home. We have got to have someone that looks at this entire process to ensure that it's consistent, complementary, and streamlined. That we’re implementing technologies which serve the public, and pulling back the veil on air traffic control to better understand what ingredients make a predictively adverse passenger experience. Mr. Chairman, this legislation addresses many of the concerns we hear from the flying public every day.

We also need to make sure we have the workforce necessary to continue to carry the torch of international leadership in aviation. This legislation ensures that we have the pilots, air traffic controllers, the Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) mechanics, and those operating new entrants into the market.

Mr. Chairman, this legislation also makes significant advances in an area that I care a lot about – new entrants in the market. This FAA was initially established for a scenario when you had a few airplanes a week that were coming off of assembly lines. Now, we are facing a scenario where there will be thousands of unmanned systems coming out weekly. We have to make sure that our regulatory, statutory environment is one that actually enables these new technologies to thrive in our market.

Title VII of the bill facilitates these new technologies: everything from allowing for drones to be used for delivery of packages and strengthening the importance of the FAA enabling Beyond Visual Line of Sight. It also ensures that we are operating in a risk-based framework for safety. It codifies and standardizes the Part 107 waiver process and provides transparency for applicants. It also ensures that the FAA designates sites where critical infrastructure is located -- the first step to protecting the airspace around those locations. I want to remind my FAA friends that they were first instructed to begin this process in 2016. Lastly, the bill enables drones to be used to fight wildfires and to conduct infrastructure inspections. 

In the advanced air mobility space, the bill creates certainty for Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. It ensures the rulemaking process is completed and provides certainty moving forward.

Mr. Chairman, I want to note that the leader of this bill, Congressman Sam Graves, is the most knowledgeable aviation expert ever to lead this Committee, and his hand was involved in every page of this legislation. We would not have this great bill without his leadership, without the leadership of our Ranking Member Rick Larsen, who represents a large manufacturing and innovation community, and our Ranking Member Steve Cohen, who represents one of the largest cargo logistics hubs in the world.

I urge the adoption of this bill and yield back.

Click here to watch Chairman Garret Graves’ remarks.

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Tags: Aviation