Five-year FAA bill passes U.S. House of Representatives, increasing flights to Washington

The United States House voted 387-26 on Wednesday to approve a bill to re-allocate $105 billion to the Federal Aviation Administration over the next five years and to finalize a hotly debated deal to add flights at the busy John Paul II National Airport. Reagan.

Supporters of the bill, which won votes from every ideological corner of the often divided House, touted its aviation safety and consumer protection provisions. The House vote sends the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk ahead of Friday’s deadline. Senate approved the act last week.

The only member to speak against the bill during Tuesday’s floor debate was Don Beyer of Virginia, a Democrat, who – like the entire U.S. Senate delegation from Maryland and Virginia – opposed the provision adding five inbound and five outbound flights from Washington-D.C. National Airport Reagan across the Potomac River from Washington


  • Increases funding for the Airport Improvement Program, which funds infrastructure improvements at airports of all sizes across the country;
  • requires agencies to hire more air traffic controllers;
  • Updates the aircraft safety certification process; AND
  • It requires airlines to automatically refund passengers for flights delayed by three hours or more, among many other provisions in its rule on more than 1000 pages.

Missouri congressman ‘couldn’t be more proud’

The bill’s passage was something of a career culmination for House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves, a Missouri Republican and one of the few pilots in Congress.

“I have served in this House for over 23 years, and as chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I have long looked forward to the passage of the FAA bill,” he said on the floor on Tuesday. “This is the type of bill a president can only prepare once in his or her career, and I couldn’t be more proud of the final product we produced.”

Graves is in his third term as the top Republican on the committee and is barred from seeking another term under House GOP rules, although he can ask party leaders to waive that rule.

He highlighted the protections included in the draft General Aviation Act – a term that could apply to all non-commercial and non-military flights.

Republican Rick Larsen, the ranking Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, praised several provisions of the bill, including Airport Improvement Program funding, which he said could be used for alternative fuels infrastructure and to mitigate noise and other harmful effects of airports in disadvantaged neighborhoods .

The bill also creates a program to assist airports replace firefighting foam made with PFAS or eternal chemicals, funds workforce development grants and prohibits airlines from charging families to sit together, the Washington Democrat said.

The bill “cements a safer, cleaner, greener, more innovative and more accessible future for American aviation,” Larsen said.

DCA flights

The six “no” votes in the House came from Virginia members who opposed the provision adding flights to Washington National, also called DCA.

The state’s congressional delegation, along with Maryland state senators, said the airport is already working to safely handle current traffic. They argue that adding flights will only worsen the security environment.

“I am deeply concerned about regulations that would worsen unsafe conditions at the national airport,” Beyer said Tuesday. “I cannot support a bill that hurts my constituents, disrespects all elected leaders in Virginia, Maryland and D.C., and directly harms our airport and the passengers who use it.”

Members outside the capital region argued that additional flights would be beneficial. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat from Georgia, said they would add “connectivity and economic expansion.”

Rep. Burgess Owens, a Utah Republican, also praised the additional flights.

“This legislation was designed not for one airport and one airline, but for all of us,” he said. “It provides more convenience and more options for families traveling to Washington.”

The five novel routes have not been selected, but some members, including Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who serves on the Senate committee that oversees aviation, speculate that San Antonio could be one of the beneficiaries.

Research by Min-Seok Pang, a professor at the Fox School of Business at Temple University in Philadelphia, Russell J. Funk, a professor at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, and Daniel Hirschman, a professor of sociology at Cornell University, found that the House District The United States Representative, represented by the chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, has seen more commercial air services.

The data show Between 1990 and 2019, transportation committee chairs saw the number of flights to their districts enhance by an average of more than 5%. Airlines have also increased direct flights to Washington from the district where the headquarters is located, according to an analysis published last year in the academic journal Organization Science. After the chairman’s term, the numbers generally returned to normal.

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