On April 27th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a five-year Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 4). H.R. 4, which would reauthorize the aviation regulator through the 2023 fiscal year and included disaster-related provisions that would alter Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) policy, but did not include controversial language to privatize air-traffic control systems, though it does include a requirement that the FAA report on NextGen ATC development. The FEMA rider aimed to give the agency more flexibility in providing grants for infrastructure construction used to mitigate future natural disasters, and was likely included in an attempt to garner Democrat votes for the package.
The question now becomes what changes, if any, the Senate will require so that it too solicits the votes necessary for passage. Senator John Thune, R-S.D., said he hoped the Senate would now act on its own FAA reauthorization bill after the House measure passed. The Thune-sponsored bill would authorize the FAA through 2021 — two years shorter than the House version — and doesn’t include the disaster title. Current authority for the FAA expires Sept. 30.