CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, September 20, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 5944, to amend title 49, United States Code, with respect to certain grant assurances, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 5944 was introduced on September 7, 2016, by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
H.R. 5944 amends title 49, United States Code, to clarify that airports may renew the nominal rate leases of Air National Guard units without violating Federal grant assurances if the Guard unit operates military aircraft at or remotely from the airport.
According to the bill’s sponsor, in order to remain in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant assurances, airports must manage their leases at fair market value in order to remain eligible for Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds.
The National Guard receives “nominal lease rates” at civilian airports because aircraft missions qualify under FAA requirements. Over the past decade, the Guard’s mission has evolved and aircraft missions have been moved or eliminated as new missions are created and the Department of Defense adjusts the Air Force and Guard force structure on dual-use civilian airfields.
Many Guard flying missions have transitioned to Remote Pilot Aircraft (RPA) missions at these bases to meet their Total Force responsibilities along with the Air Force. Pilots and flying missions are staged, planned, and executed on base – without physical aircraft on the airfield. For example, aircraft can take-off and fly in Afghanistan but are piloted from airfields located in the United States.
Under current law, with the loss of physical aircraft at the bases, the Guard loses eligibility for nominal leases. With leases due for renewal or in the middle of their term, airports can be forced to charge the Guard fair market value, or force the Guard off the property to find other tenants to pay fair market value in order to remain eligible for FAA funds.
Removing the Guard from the airport also eliminates all of the ancillary benefits the Guard may provide at civilian airfields such as infrastructure support, maintenance, security, fire and emergency response. These services are funded out of the Guard or AF budget and would need to also be absorbed by the airport.
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate is currently unavailable.
For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.