“The Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017”
September 27, 2017
Mr. Speaker, I want to be very clear with what is at stake if Congress fails to pass this FAA extension:
Starting on October 1st —
- No aviation taxes will be collected. Approximately $40 million dollars of revenue will be lost each day.
- This is revenue that would have been used for airport infrastructure funding, and the FAA’s important safety, operational, and research functions.
- No new Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants will be issued to airports in communities across the country.
- All FAA accounts funded out of the aviation trust fund—the Facilities and Equipment, AIP, and Research, Engineering, and Development accounts—will be impacted.
- Thousands of employees will be furloughed and some will be required to show up to work for no pay.
We must also be clear on the impact to hurricane recovery efforts currently underway by the FAA and funded from the Facilities and Equipment account, including those in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The FAA is currently trying to restore radars, navigational aids, and other equipment damaged during Hurricane Maria.
This is happening while stranded passengers in San Juan airport wait without air conditioning and electricity for a flight off the island.
FAA technicians are working around the clock to restore services, but because of the extent of the damage and challenges of the terrain where equipment is located, it is difficult to determine when full restoration will happen.
For instance, as we debate this bill, technicians are making their way to a long-range radar site on a mountain in Puerto Rico.
The last two miles to the site through the rain forest are impassable, so the technicians are using chainsaws to clear a path for themselves and the replacement equipment.
This radar and navigation equipment are critical to the safe operation of flight, and without them, airline operations, as well as emergency relief flights will continue to be disrupted.
We will have plenty of time to debate aviation policy in the coming weeks. I look forward to it.
But the FAA extension we are considering this week is not a pawn in a Washington game of political brinksmanship.
It is time for Congress to ensure the FAA’s authorities, funding, and disaster recovery efforts continue uninterrupted in order to help those impacted by the hurricanes and so desperately in need.
I urge all my colleagues to support this critical legislation and I yield back the balance of my time.