On February 14, 2012, the Committee saw its major initiative to improve the nation’s airport and aviation infrastructure, create jobs, modernize our antiquated pre-World War II air traffic control system, improve aviation safety, and save taxpayers money through significant reforms of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) signed into law.
Chairman Mica accepts the pen used by President Obama to enact into law the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (H.R. 658), a long-term bill making aviation reforms for a critical industry that accounts for as much as 11% of the nation’s economic activity. The legislation puts in place sound multi-year policies that reform FAA programs, eliminates expensive ticket subsidies, modernizes our air traffic control system, improves airport infrastructure, reduces air traffic delays, and creates jobs, all without increasing the nation’s deficit. Mica introduced H.R. 658 in the House.
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (H.R. 658) sets the long-term federal policy for a vital segment of the nation's economy. This measure was introduced in the House by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica and Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri (R-WI).
Action on this infrastructure and jobs bill was long overdue, after stalling in Congress for nearly five years. During this delay, the Democrats who controlled Congress for four years were responsible for 17 short-term FAA extensions. Such short-term stopgap measures are a costly, ineffective way of setting policy for the world's safest aviation system, and passage of H.R. 658 after Republicans assumed leadership of the Committee and the House brought the delays to an end.
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act provides for four years of funding for FAA programs and infrastructure projects.
The legislation also brings an end to outrageous ticket subsidies for air service to some small airports under the Essential Air Service program. The new law eliminates federal subsidies as high as $3,720 per ticket, prohibits new communities from joining the program, and reduces costs to the taxpayers.
In addition, the measure provides a blueprint for modernizing our air traffic control system from pre-WWII technology to the GPS-based NextGen system. NextGen will reduce air traffic delays, cut down on emissions and pollution, and lower costs for consumers. H.R. 658 increases the government's accountability in this ongoing program by setting milestones and metrics to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not wasted as NextGen progresses.
Unprecedented reforms in H.R. 658 will also bring much needed equity, transparency, and oversight to labor relations in the aviation industry. Such relations are governed by the National Mediation Board (NMB). Under the Obama Administration, the NMB unilaterally changed 75 years of labor election procedures, despite the fact that such changes are properly the authority of Congress. The FAA law requires that any new NMB rulemakings be subject to public hearings, that elections to either unionize or vote out a union are conducted on an equal footing, and that the independent Government Accountability Office now conduct regular and substantive oversight of the NMB, which had been lacking.
Provisions in this legislation also bring to a halt the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) efforts to shut down a cost effective program in which airline passenger screening is provided by qualified private screeners under federal supervision. The right of airports to opt out of all-TSA screening in favor of this more effective and efficient security model has been in place since the agency was created, but in 2011 TSA cited its own flawed data in denying airports this option. The new law restarts this program that the Obama Administration had closed down, and allows private industry to compete to provide screening services at our nation’s airports under strong federal oversight. This has been done successfully at more than a dozen airports in the U.S. for years and is the airport screening model utilized by most developed nations.
The FAA legislation also includes a veterans’ preference provision for small businesses owned by disabled veterans of the Afghanistan/Iraq conflict and the Persian Gulf War.
More information on FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012:
Links to the Conference Report to accompany H.R. 658
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Hearings & Markups