What to Know in Washington: FAA Bill Takes Flight in Congress

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Lawmakers will sift through measures around attempts to ease pilot shortfalls, increase flights at Reagan National Airport and ban shrinking plane seat size this week as the House takes up its sweeping aviation legislation.

The House is moving faster than the Senate as the two chambers seek to advance their FAA bills with a looming Sept. 30 deadline until the FAA’s current authority expires. Delay of the package could exacerbate flight delays, staff shortages, and the adoption of new technologies as US passenger air travel booms after pandemic-lows, officials have warned.

Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images
A Delta Airlines flight, with the U.S. Capitol in the background, approaches to land at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

More than 300 amendments were filed to the House Rules Committee on sweeping, five-year legislation reauthorizing the FAA last week. The Rules panel is expected to meet on Monday to decide which amendments will be considered on the House floor.

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Sam Graves (R-Mo.), who helped shepherd the writing of the bulk of the bill, said lawmakers would work through what could be accepted and “try to cut them down as much as possible.” Controversial amendments caused Democrats and a handful of Republicans to oppose must-pass annual defense legislation on the floor last week.

Many of the filed amendments are bipartisan, including ones to ban foreign drones, create a no-fly list for passengers who assault flight crew members, and make it harder for roosters to fly aboard airplanes, but across-the-aisle support won’t guarantee consideration. Democrats also submitted amendments to ramp up consumer protections in the legislation, a priority for the party as more delays and cancellations frustrate passengers.

Read more: ‘Old School Politicians’ Keep FAA Bill Moving as Senate Stalls

Last month, lawmakers worked to limit tricky amendments in the transportation panel as the top four committee and aviation subcommittee leaders agreed to stand together on many proposals. “Largely, we’ll take a ‘Big Four’ approach to amendments to try to maintain the integrity of the bill,” Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), ranking member of the transportation panel, said Thursday. Lillianna Byington highlights some of the amendments lawmakers will consider.


  • The House returns today to vote on FAA reauthorization later this week.
  • Senators convene tomorrow to take up the annual defense bill.


  • President Joe Biden has no public events scheduled today.
  • Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will give a briefing at 3 p.m.

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To contact the reporters on this story: Giuseppe Macri in Washington at gmacri@bgov.com; Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

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