Larsen – top House Aviation Democrat – backed by all Committee Democrats, rejects controversial proposal to privatize air traffic control systemWASHINGTON, D.C.—Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), the top-Ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Aviation, today continued to lead the charge for a bipartisan, comprehensive, long-term bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
In a markup of the House Transportation Committee, Larsen called on his Republican and Democratic colleagues to focus on areas of bipartisan common ground. “My belief continues to be that this bill could be a slam dunk, but for the proposal to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system,” said Larsen. “There is no doubt that NextGen had some implementation issues at the start, but the FAA has made tremendous progress in the last few years and keeps delivering success after success. In fact, the FAA has already delivered $2.7 billion in NextGen benefits and expects $161 billion in benefits by 2030. On the other hand, the only thing privatization has delivered is an extension in September 2015, an extension in March 2016, an extension last July and most likely another FAA extension coming up in September.” In the 115th Congress, Larsen led a series of hearings exploring the needs of aviation stakeholders, including: growth in the drone and commercial space industry, modernizing the national airspace as part of the FAA’s NextGen program, alleviating congestion and improving user experience at Sea-Tac and reforming aircraft certification to help U.S. manufacturers and transport products to market more quickly. During today’s markup, Larsen highlighted the Aviation Funding Stability Act, legislation which aims to strengthen and speed up the reforms taking place at the FAA and its air traffic control system through the NextGen initiative. Larsen, Ranking Member DeFazio and every Democratic member of the Transportation Committee introduced the legislation earlier this month. The Aviation Funding Stability Act of 2017 would help ensure investments in the U.S. aviation system are not subject to Congressional dysfunction and would streamline the acquisition of NextGen technology, equipment certification, and ATC management. As part of the legislation to reauthorize the FAA, Larsen successfully championed a consumer protection provision aimed at requiring airlines to inform customers what relief – such as food, hotel vouchers, or seats on another airline – they can expect in the event of widespread network disruptions, and another provision to advance a study on best practices and current air carrier and airport training policies for people with disabilities. Additionally, Larsen secured a provision requiring minimum rest periods for flight attendants. Larsen has for years helped lead the charge for long-term, comprehensive FAA re-authorization.