The U.S. House voted this week in support of a Reauthorization Act for the Federal Aviation Authority, a move that locks in funding for the agency and protects more than 6,000 jobs at the FAA’s Mike Monroney center in Oklahoma City.
The House vote was 398-23 and Oklahoma Congressman Steve Russell was a supporter of the measure.
“America is home to the safest skies in the world,” Russell said. “This legislation ensures we are investing long-term in our aviation industry. That’s good for our country and good for Oklahoma, where the success of the FAA is vital to the success of our local economy.”
Oklahoma City at the heart of FAA operations. The city is home to the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, which is the centralized service and support facility for the FAA and Department of Transportation (DOT). The Aeronautical Center employs more than 6,300 federal and contract employees and is the site of the Federal Aviation Academy, which trains more than 76,000 air traffic controllers each year.
Russell successfully led the charge against controversial attempts to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system, an effort which would have weakened the power of the president, threatened the national security of our airspace with regard to our military and air traffic control and would have put the 6,300 jobs at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center at risk.
The FAA Reauthorization Act modernizes airport infrastructure by funding vital FAA functions through 2023. This long-term solution provides much-needed stability for the FAA, which has been operating under short-term authorizations since 2015.
The legislation also provides funding for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) which issues grants to airports of all sizes for planning and development projects.
The FAA Reauthorization improves safety and experience for customers flying in the United States by directing the FAA to set minimum legroom standards, allowing pregnant women to have advance boarding and establishing an Aviation Consumer Advocate at the Department of Transportation (DOT) to help consumers resolve air travel complaints.
The legislation also requires flight attendants to receive 10 hours of rest between duty periods, the first change to the rest period in 24 years.
The bill also:
- Authorizes funding of $7.9 billion each year for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
- Authorizes piloting, testing and prioritization of Computed Tomography technology to mitigate current transportation threats
- Creates efficiencies in FEMA programs by inspecting structures faster
- Reforms FEMA and the Stafford Act by ensuring a percentage of assistance from disasters is invested in pre-disaster hazard mitigation to preempt damage from disasters
“As Orville Wright once said, ‘The airplane stays up because it doesn’t have time to fall.’ This bill heeds that advice, keeps our airplanes flying and moves our aviation industry forward – and I was proud to support it,” Russell said.
Russell recently spoke about Oklahoma’s aviation industry with the National Association of State Aviation Officials in Oklahoma City. Watch his remarks here.