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Key wins for counties as House passes Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill

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On April 27, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, 393- 13. The bill would reauthorize the FAA through FY 2023 and contains several NACo-supported victories for counties, including:

  • An amendment from Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Amendment No. 112, which would discontinue the authorization and funding for the Essential Air Service (EAS), was voted down and the amendment was not added to the bill. This a success for rural counties relying on federal assistance to provide continued travel options to county residents. Recognizing the importance of the EAS program, NACo signed onto a letter opposing this amendment and emphasizing the importance of EAS to rural counties. In addition to an increase for funding for the EAS program, the bill also includes funding for Airport Improvement Program grants (AIP Grants). 
  • The Lewis Amendment (No. 28), passed by a voice vote and added to the bill, would codify the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Integration Pilot Program (IPP), giving local governments the ability to partner with private sector entities to properly integrate low-altitude UAS operations in federal pilot programs. NACo recently sent a letter expressing county concerns related to Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), including the operation of and the establishment of IPPs. The letter also addressed a provision in the bill that could result in a possible pre-emption of local government authority regarding the operation of UAS.

Following passage in the House, the bill moves to the U.S. Senate. Majority leadership on the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hopes to pass its own bill in the upcoming months, which would authorize the FAA through FY 2021 (two years shorter than the House bill) and would not include the disaster title. If the Senate passes an altered version of the legislation, the two chambers would either enter a conference committee, which would bring lawmakers from each chamber together to resolve differences between the bills, or the House could accept the Senate’s version of the bill. Lawmakers hope to complete a final reauthorization before Congress recesses at the end of July. The current FAA extension is set to expire on September 30, 2018.

Counties play a critical role in the nation’s air transportation system and own 34 percent of the nation’s publicly-owned airports. NACo will continue advocating for county priorities as the Senate considers the FAA Reauthorization bill to ensure county priorities are maintained and the needs of counties and their residents are reflected.

Additional Resources:

To read NACo’s blog post on the release of the FAA bill, click here
To read the letter opposing the McClintock Amendment, click here
To read the letter on two FAA amendments involving UAS policy, click here

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