Views on H.R. 658 FAA Reauthorization and Amendments
March 31, 2011
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the
interests of more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and
region, urges Congress to reauthorize federal aviation programs. H.R. 658, the “Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011” is an important step toward
achieving this goal. The Chamber strongly supports several provisions of H.R. 658 and
provisions expected to be included in the manager’s amendment. However, the Chamber
strongly opposes amendments that have been filed regarding lithium-ion batteries and repeal a
National Mediation Board rule and supports an amendment to improve the FAA rulemaking
Improving and modernizing the air traffic control system, which is at the heart of
America’s aviation woes, must be a national priority. The U.S. aviation system must transform to
meet the expected 36 percent increase in fliers by 2015 by expediting air traffic control
modernization and providing the necessary investment to increase national aviation system
capacity. Moreover, investment in America’s transportation system is important to U.S.
productivity and economic competitiveness in the long run, and investment in transportation
infrastructure supports jobs in the near term.
The Chamber supports several policy related provisions of H.R. 658 and the manager’s
amendment that would:
Strengthen the ability of FAA to implement the policies, procedures and technologies needed
to fully implement the Next Generation Air Traffic Control system (NextGen).
Assist the aviation community with aircraft equipage necessary to move NextGen forward.
Without ensuring that air infrastructure—advanced technologies installed in aircraft,
commonly referred to as equipage—is aligned with ground infrastructure, the benefits of
NextGen cannot be realized fully and the return on the investment in the air transportation
system will be delayed. Because of the significant costs associated with aircraft equipage,
assistance is needed. According to the Air Transport Association, the equipage cost for ADSB
could total between $3.5 and $5 billion. For the aviation community to benefit from these
technologies, the FAA must implement more efficient routings and changed procedures and
provide federal funding assistance to achieve implementation of such a requirement.
Preserve the effective and efficient Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program,
which allows business aircraft operators with privacy or security concerns for their
operations to request that Aircraft Situation Display to Industry (ASDI) data provided to the
Federal Aviation Administration be blocked from public dissemination. These requests are
routinely honored, and FAA has provided no data to demonstrate that changes to the BARR
program are necessary.
With respect to funding levels, the Chamber strongly support provisions of the bill that
would provide a robust General Fund contribution to aviation programs. Historically, the general
fund has been used to pay for a significant portion of the FAA’s costs, which provides an
important public interests including: national defense; emergency preparedness; postal delivery;
medical emergencies; and full implementation of a national passenger and freight air
However, the Chamber is concerned with overall reduced funding levels in H.R. 658. Of
particular concern are cuts to the Airport Improvement Program. The Airport Improvement
Program is an important source of funding for capital projects and contributes to safe, secure,
and efficient airport facilities. The proposed funding levels fall short of the amounts needed to
maintain, modernize and expand critical aviation infrastructure. In addition, decreased funding
for this program would reduce jobs supported by these projects.We urge Congress to address
this important issue during the conference.
The Chamber is concerned with several amendments that may be considered during floor
debate of H.R. 658 related to:
FAA Rulemaking: The Chamber strongly supports an amendment filed by Rep. Shuster that
would require FAA to consider different industry segments in its rulemaking proceedings and
to perform comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. FAA practice in certain rulemakings has
been to overlook significant operational differences within the industry and promulgate rules
that impose substantial costs without producing commensurate benefits.
National Mediation Board: The Chamber strongly opposes an amendment filed by Rep.
LaTourette that would remove Section 903 of H.R. 658. This section of the bill would repeal
recent revisions the NationalMediation Board made to its regulations concerning union
organizing under the Railway Labor Act. The NationalMediation Board’s revisions, which
were made at the request of the AFL-CIO, overturned more than 70 years of precedent and
make it possible for a union to be organized without the support of a majority of employees
in the craft or class. Strong policy arguments favor the time-tested rule jettisoned by the
Board. Further, while the Board has made it much easier to form a union it has not addressed
the double standard that makes it nearly impossible for employees to decertify an unwanted
union. In addition, the regulatory process that led to the adoption of the rule was little more
than a sham. The Board majority not only excluded the single minority member from
deliberations over the rule, but it censored her dissent. Furthermore, while the rule was
contentious enough to draw thousands of comments, the Board did not change a single word
of the proposed rule when it was finalized. Simply put, the Board’s regulatory process on this
process was egregiously flawed. Congress should not permit an agency to set policy in such a
Lithium Ion batteries: The Chamber strongly opposes an amendment by Rep. Filner,
which would prevent harmonization of federal regulations with international standards
concerning the shipment of lithium ion batteries. Provisions of the manager’s amendment
would help ensure that U.S. regulations governing air shipments of lithium batteries and
products containing them conform to international standards established by the International
Civil Aviation Organization. Such harmonization would enhance safety and minimize the
harsh economic consequences and other burdens of complying with multiple or inconsistent
requirements for transporting our products to and from the U.S.
The Chamber urges Congress to approve a multi-year aviation bill, and H.R. 658 is an
important step towards achieving this goal. The Chamber will consider including votes on or
in relation to the Filner, LaTourette and Shuster amendments in our annual How They
R. Bruce Josten