U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.-9) released a statement about the status of H.R. 2997 - the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (21st Century AIRR) Act -
and about the path forward on
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
If enacted, this legislation would transition the air traffic control system to an independent, federally chartered, not-for-profit corporation to run the air traffic control system. In his statement, Chairman Shuster conceded that there is not enough congressional support to pass the 21st Century AIRR Act in its current form. Chairman Shuster concluded his statement by stressing his intention to work with Senator Thune on a reauthorization bill to provide long-term stability for the FAA.
Rest assured, NATCA has already begun discussions about shaping the new path for FAA reauthorization legislation. Our willingness to engage members of Congress on the subject of reform over the past several years ensures our continued involvement as they move forward on new proposals. With potential for new reform options, it is critically important that we remain in the room so that we can best protect our members and the National Airspace System (NAS) as this process moves forward.
The NAS requires and deserves a stable, predictable funding stream. Two government shutdowns so far in 2018 further illustrate that the status quo is broken. Stop-and-go funding crises caused by continuing resolutions - punctuated by shutdowns - and short-term extensions to FAA authorization
slow the hiring and training process for air traffic controllers. These funding crises perpetuate the current controller staffing crisis, which has resulted in a 29-year low of certified professional controllers.
March is already upon us and there are two upcoming deadlines that present clear and present challenges:
: Congress passed a broad, bipartisan budget agreement earlier this month that included a six-week continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open and funded at current levels until March 23. Congress now has until March 23 to enact a longer-term appropriations bill effectuating the new budget caps.
: The current FAA authorization extension is set to expire on March 31. Chairman Shuster's announcement now means the House likely will move forward with some other FAA reauthorization bill to provide long-term stability for the FAA. The Senate Commerce Committee also will need to move an FAA reauthorization bill before the bill can be considered on the Senate floor.
We will continue to update you as reauthorization efforts in the House and Senate move forward, as well as with the upcoming March deadlines.