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The Biden administration raised concerns about aviation legislation, up for consideration in the House this week, that would increase pilots’ retirement age and ease regulations for airlines to show the total ticket price in advertising.
The Office of Management and Budget, in a statement Monday, praised work on the five-year Federal Aviation Administration legislation (H.R. 3935) while pointing to controversies that could complicate its passage. The bipartisan bill is scheduled to come to the House floor this week. The agency’s authorization expires Sept. 30.
The Biden administration said it would push Congress to require up-front disclosure of add-on fees and require automatic refunds and compensation for flight disruptions that can be controlled, such as staff and schedule changes. Democrats filed a slew of amendments to the Rules Committee, which meets Monday, that would add consumer protections to the bill.
The Senate’s FAA bill (S. 1939) would focus more on consumer protections, but the chamber has yet to move its measure through committee.
The House FAA bill would also increase the commercial pilot retirement age to 67 from 65, aiming to help address the pilot shortage. “Making this change without doing research and establishing any necessary policies would be outside the international standard,” the White House statement of administration policy said. An amendment proposed to Rules would drop the pilot retirement age increase.
The administration also urged Congress to include provisions that would improve job quality for airport service workers, such as those who clean planes, handle baggage, and assist passengers in wheelchairs. Airport workers have pushed lawmakers to include higher wages in the FAA bill. A Democrat-proposed amendment would bar federal funds to airports unless those workers are paid at least $15 per hour.
The administration also said the legislation’s proposed “aggressive timelines” for rules changes could be difficult to meet, and that it opposes modifying the FAA’s rulemaking review.
“We don’t have the number of air traffic controllers that we need,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told reporters last week. “We don’t have everything that we need in terms of the modernization of systems that has to happen over the next few years.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Lillianna Byington in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org