The U.S. Senate this week is hoping to bring the comprehensive FAA reauthorization bill to the floor for consideration. This action would come just a few weeks after the Senate Commerce Committee approved the bill, S.2658, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act.
The Senate bill has captured strong support from the general aviation community, which has pushed for quick action on the measure. However, airline groups have not embraced the bill, faulting it for omitting an air traffic control reform provision similar to the user-funded independent ATC measure in the House bill. Airline groups also expressed concerns about consumer protection provisions.
“The Senate took the easy way out. It will ensure that we continue to call NextGen ‘Nevergen,’” said Nick Calio, president and CEO of Airlines for America, during a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce aviation summit. He also said the bill seeks to re-regulate the airline industry.
Senators are hoping to push through the bill before the Senate floor becomes busy with various other appropriations bills. But the FAA bill also might become a venue for Senators to address other issues, such as airport security, in light of the recent bombings in Brussels, or more controversial issues such as taxes.
The House is expected to consider a more comprehensive FAA bill next month, but it is unclear whether it will bring up the House Transportation and Infrastructure bill that seeks ATC reform, the Senate bill or some other measure.