FAA bill flies through House to Biden’s desk

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After nearly a year of negotiations and four short-term extensions, and a week after the Senate passed it, the House Wednesday approved a bipartisan $105 billion Federal Aviation Administration bill, sending it to President Joe Biden’s desk two days before the agency’s spending runs out.

The 387-26 vote passed a bill that features a solid bump in the Airport Improvement Program, which funds new airport infrastructure like runways. The 20% increase funds the AIP at $4 billion a year, or $20 billion over the five-year life of the bill — up from the $3.4 billion it had been set at for at least a decade.

The AIP is one of three funding mechanisms for airports in addition to passenger facility charges, which often back airport bonds and also haven’t been raised in 20 years, and tenant rents and fees.

“The majority of that money is going to be going to medium and small airports which means more airports getting needed construction dollars,” House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Sam Graves, R-Mo., said after the passage. In a statement, Graves called it a “comprehensive bill” that “improves our aviation system’s safety, infrastructure, and workforce. It will enhance the FAA’s efficiency and the overall passenger experience, while encouraging domestic innovation in aviation.”

“The majority of that money is going to be going to medium and small airports which means more airports getting needed construction dollars,” House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Sam Graves, R-Mo., said after the House passed the FAA bill Wednesday.

Bloomberg

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024, HR 3935 , would increase authorizations for FAA operations to $66.7 billion total over five years, including $13 billion for fiscal 2024, up from $11.5 billion in fiscal 2023. It includes $738 million to the National Transportation Safety Board. The final debate came over whether to add additional roundtrip daily flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, which some lawmakers said would overwhelm the airport. A compromise provision passed in the end.

“This bipartisan FAA reauthorization bill is the product of endless hours of negotiation and debate and will transform several aspects of flying in the years to come,” said Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.

The legislation requires the FAA to hire and train 3,000 new air traffic controllers and to use new technology designed to prevent collisions between planes on runways. It also requires airlines to pay a refund to customers for flight delays, in line with a recent Department of Transportation rule.

The nation’s roughly 3,300 airports face $151 billion in infrastructure needs over the next five years, according to the 2023 U.S. Airport Infrastructure Needs Report.

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