CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
The House is scheduled to begin consideration of H.R. 915, the FAA Reauthorization Act, on Thursday, May 21, 2009, under a structured rule making 11 amendments in order. The rule provides for one hour of debate and one motion to recommit. In addition, the rule would amend the bill by adding the following two self-executed amendments to the bill:
• Applies the Back Pay Act to Federal Aviation Administration employees. The Back Pay Act was passed in 1966 and permits certain federal employees to be reimbursed for wrongful deprivation of pay under certain circumstances outlined under the act.
• Extends for three years the Airport and Airway Trust Fund taxes on the transportation of persons or property and on aviation fuel. The amendment would significantly increase taxes on fuel for noncommercial aviation. In the case of aviation-grade kerosene the tax would increase from 21.8 cents per gallon to 35.9 cents per gallon. In the case of aviation grade gasoline the tax would increase from 19.3 cents per gallon to 24.1 cents per gallon. This amendment would increase taxes on noncommercial aviation fuel by $1.32 billion over ten years
Both amendments would be considered as adopted if the rule is passed.
The following amendments to H.R. 915 will likely be considered on the floor on May 21, 2009. The underlying legislation was introduced by Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN) on February 9, 2009.
1) Rep. Oberstar (D-MN), Manager's Amendment: Adds a new section regarding the participation of disadvantaged business enterprises in contracts, subcontracts, and business opportunities funded using passenger facility revenues and in airport concessions. The amendment also requires the FAA to hold discussions with countries that have foreign repair stations to harmonize safety standards and clarify that the foreign repair station section is an exercise of the rights of the United States under an international agreement.
This amendment requires the FAA to conduct a rulemaking to improve the safety of flight crewmembers, medical personnel, and passengers aboard helicopters providing air ambulance services under federal regulations. The amendment also establishes within the FAA an Aviation Safety Whistleblower Office to assess and investigate complaints regarding aviation safety. The amendment clarifies that passengers may not smoke in intrastate and interstate aircraft. Additionally, it requires air carriers to permit passengers to carry musical instruments under certain circumstances.
The amendment permits the Secretary to make grants to airport operators and units of local government for soundproofing certain buildings. Additionally, it requires the FAA to initiate research and development work on air cleaning and sensor technology for the engine and auxiliary power unit for bleed air supplied to the passenger cabin and flight deck. The amendment requires the owner or operator of a large hub airport to publish on the Internet a phone number to receive aviation noise complaints and report such complaints to the FAA.
Finally, the amendment requires the FAA to ensure that any air traffic control tower or facility in operation at Palm Beach International Airport after September 30, 2009, or facility placed into operation before such date, includes an operating terminal radar approach control.
2) Reps. Lee (R-NY), Slaughter (D-NY), and Higgins (D-NY): Requires GAO to study commercial airline training and certification programs and report to Congress.
3) Rep. Richardson (D-CA): Requires the Secretary to issue regulations to require each air carrier to provide each of its passengers an option to receive a text message, subject to any fees applicable under the contract of the electronic service, from the air carrier consisting of a notification of any change in the status of the flight of such passenger prior to boarding. This would only apply to air carriers that earn at least one-percent of the domestic passenger service revenue.
4) Rep. Burgess (R-TX): Expresses the sense of Congress that FAA whistleblowers be granted the full protection of the law.
5) Reps. Cuellar (D-TX), Ortiz (D-TX), and McCaul (R-TX): Requires a study of FAA radar signal locations and their impact on the development of renewable energy technologies, and to make necessary recommendations for relocation of FAA radars and testing and development as needed.
6) Rep. McCaul (R-TX): Prohibits funds from being used to name a project or program for an individual serving as a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, or Senator of the U.S. Congress.
7) Rep. Murphy (D-CT): Provides that when appraisals are conducted for purchase of property under the Airport Improvement Program, such appraisals do not consider the increased or decreased value of the property due to its inclusion in a potential project.
8) Rep. Cassidy (R-LA): Requires an Inspector General study (in the underlying bill) to also include the effect that limited air carrier service operations has on the frequency of delays and cancellations on those routes.
9) Rep. Kilroy (D-OH): Requires the GAO to study the effectiveness of FAA oversight activities regarding mitigating or preventing dense, continual smoke in the cockpit of commercial aircraft.
10) Rep. Frelinghuysen (R-NJ): Requires the FAA to study the proposed New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia Class B modification design change. The study would determine the effect of such a change on the environment.
11) Reps. Lowey (D-NY), Engel (D-NY), and Hall (D-NY): Directs the FAA to initiate a rulemaking process to determine the authorization of Westchester County Airport to reinstate limits on overnight aircraft operations.