The House of Representatives today passed a bipartisan, bicameral, four-year infrastructure measure to reform Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs, improve the nation's aviation infrastructure, modernize our air traffic control system, and spur private sector job creation.
The House approved the conference report to H.R. 658, the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, by a vote of 248 to 169. House and Senate conferees had reached agreement on the measure earlier this week. The Senate is now expected to consider the conference report next week.
"This FAA reform bill will help modernize our aviation system and ensure that it remains the safest system in the world," said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica. "Aviation accounts for $1.3 trillion in economic activity, and as much as 11% of GDP. This legislation sets federal policy for one of the most important parts of our economy.
"This bipartisan long-term blueprint for aviation programs is nearly five years overdue," Mica said. "Democrats failed to pass a reauthorization and address needed reforms during the four years they controlled the House and Senate. 23 short-term hiccup extensions later, Congress is now acting to ensure that the U.S. aviation system remains a strong and vital part of our economy."
"Along with the many good provisions in this bill, I am especially pleased to see the NextGen air traffic system modernization provisions moving forward," said Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI), the Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee.
"Conversion to satellite-based air traffic control and other improvements will truly be revolutionary by allowing more efficient routing, faster and safer travel from point to point, major fuel savings and lower emissions. It's a major step forward."
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act freezes funding for FAA programs at fiscal year 2011 levels for four years.
The legislation also reforms the Essential Air Service program by eliminating the most egregious subsidies, prohibiting new communities from joining the program, and authorizing the appropriation of decreased funding levels.
The measure reforms FAA's oversight of the NextGen air traffic control modernization program and increases accountability by setting milestones and metrics.
Additional provisions of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act:
Contains no earmarks and does not raise taxes or passenger facility charges (PFCs).
Provides responsible funding for FAA safety programs, NextGen efforts, and operations through 2015.
Provides long-term stability for the aviation industry, and creates the environment to allow for the creation of high-paying and sustainable jobs.
Accelerates deployment of NextGen technologies that will bring a net $281 billion benefit to the overall U.S. economy.
Provides for unprecedented reform of the National Mediation Board.
Limits efforts by the Administration to over-regulate the industry, including the lithium battery industry.
Establishes a balanced inspection regime for repair stations.
Establishes a process to address outdated and obsolete FAA air traffic control facilities, saving taxpayer money.
Enacts airline passenger improvements and protections.
Stimulates private sector job creation in the unmanned aircraft systems industry by setting timelines for action by the FAA on the safe integration of UASs into the national airspace system.