The U.S. House of Representatives is poised this week to begin consideration of the FAA Reauthorization bill.  The legislation, known as the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act (H.R. 3935), would reauthorize the FAA’s activities for the next five years.  The FAA’s current reauthorization expires on September 30, 2023.  

Since our report on the legislation in early June, the measure was approved by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on June 14 by a bipartisan vote of 63-0.  On July 17, the bill was considered by the House Committee on Rules, which determines the procedures for how a proposed piece of legislation will be debated on the floor of the House.  The Rules Committee approved a rule that allows for consideration of 104 amendments when the legislation reaches the floor.  The full House is scheduled to begin debate on the measure on July 19.

Since the legislation was reported out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, a controversy has arisen regarding the so-called “perimeter rule” at Reagan Washington National Airport.  The dispute concerns a proposal to allow additional long-distance flights beyond the current limit of 1,250 miles.  The original proposal was for an additional 28 round-trip flights, but has been the subject of intense opposition from lawmakers in the D.C. region, particularly in the Senate.  One of the amendments that will be considered would reduce the number of new round-trip flights to 7, split among the 7 airlines servicing the airport.  The full House will consider this proposed amendment, along with over 100 others, later this week. It is not clear whether this scaled-back compromise proposal will be acceptable to area lawmakers, but the issue will at least be debated on the floor.

Assuming the full House passes some version of the reauthorization bill, the measure would need to be reconciled with the Senate’s version.  Proponents are hoping that the Senate will act before both chambers recess in August. While the movement toward passage in the House is an encouraging sign, it is still too early to declare victory in the FAA reauthorization process, and any final bill that heads to the president’s desk may include features not contained in the current proposal.  We will be watching closely as the legislation is debated in the coming days, and as the Senate begins its deliberations later this summer.