The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Markup: Funding Safe and Resilient Transportation Systems

March 28, 2019

The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee met March 27th to consider eight bills in a markup session:

  • H.R. 1108 – Aviation Funding Stability Act of 2019
  • H.R. 1775– To establish a task force on NOTAM improvements, and for other purposes;
  • H.R. 367 – Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act of 2019
  • H.R.1322 – To require a report on the effects of Climate Change on the Coast Guard;
  • H.R. 1306 – Federal Disaster Assistance Coordination Act
  • H.R. 1307 – Post-Disaster Assistance Online Accountability Act
  • H.R. 1311 – To amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to ensure that unmet needs after a major disaster are met
  • H.R. 1331 – Local Water Protection Act

All eight bills passed. H.R.1108 and H.R. 367 became particularly timely after the 2018-2019 government shutdown that left air traffic controllers monitoring our nation’s safety in the sky without pay and the Coast Guard as the only branch of the armed services working without pay.

H.R. 1108 closely follows a bill introduced two years ago by Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Rick Larsen (D-WA). The 2017 version of the bill would have provided the FAA – the entire FAA, not only the air traffic control portion – with budgetary independence and immunity from discretionary spending caps, sequestration, and potential government shutdown. Ensuring the continued functionality of all FAA programs during a shutdown not only bolsters safety in the U.S. airspace, but also supports ATC workers with reliable salaries, and is beneficial for the national economy by maintaining safe, reliable air travel options.

In the event of a lapse in appropriations, the bill would maintain current funding levels for all FAA accounts by providing unobligated money at the most recently appropriated levels, but all of the money provided by H.R. 1108 would come from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund. H.R. 1108 garnered bipartisan support, passing by voice vote.

Also with a focus of the impacts from the most recent, and longest in history, government shutdown, the committee emphasized the need to bring parity to the armed forces awarding the same rights to pay and benefits to the Coast Guard as to the other branches of the military. (Congress never – never – lets the Defense appropriations bill lapse, but the Coast Guard is funded from a different appropriations bill.) H.R. 367 would do so by providing permanent authority to appropriate funds to pay members of Coast Guard.

After an emergency landing at SFO due to a closed runway that was disclosed on the eighth page of the notice to airmen (NOTAM), lawmakers are acting to restructure NOTAMs. H.R. 1775, introduced by Reps. Pete Stauber (R-MN) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) would establish a task force to identify best practices and make recommendations for more concise and readable NOTAMs with the intent of increasing aviation safety. Emphasizing the support of this bill from NTSB at the markup, DeSaulnier quoted the Chair of the NTSB as stating that NOTAMs are currently “garbage and they need to be fixed.”

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