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Senators’ differences over pilot training and expanding flights to Washington’s closest-in airport helped stall a key panel’s plans to consider $107 billion legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee put off its markup of the bipartisan bill yesterday as negotiations continue. A new meeting date has yet to be set — raising concerns about a path forward as lawmakers close in on a Sept. 30 deadline to renew FAA authorities for five years.
A House committee advanced its own FAA bill this week, which aims to boost air traffic controllers and increase airport funding. But any differences between the two chambers’ bills would need to be negotiated before the September deadline.
Ranking member Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a co-sponsor of the Senate bill, said he had reached agreement with Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) on difficult issues before Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) weighed in with concerns.
“This is a fight among the Democrats, and so they got to sort it out,” Cruz said. “But I don’t think it’s particularly helpful for Chuck Schumer to parachute in at the last moment and blow up the markup.”
Cantwell said there was “a lot of concern” over the House bill’s pilot training language. The House’s bill would allow as many as 150 additional hours in a full-flight simulator to count toward the 1,500 hours first officer commercial airline pilots need to fly under current regulations. The Senate’s base proposal left the issue untouched, but senators are negotiating an amendment that some members weren’t aware of, Cantwell said, adding “we just had some miscommunication last night about what the right language was and hopefully we can get it worked out.”
Another flashpoint is the proposal to increase the number of nonstop flights that can originate from Reagan National Airport to airports more than 1,250 miles away — a quantity restricted by a federal law often called the perimeter rule.
An increase pits airlines with competing Washington-area airport hubs against each other. It’s also ramped up tension between regional lawmakers worried about congestion and long-distance lawmakers who favor more competition and flights to their home districts.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) said she opposes changes because Washington airspace is already crowded. Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, all Democrats in the Washington area, said they would strongly oppose the entire bill with perimeter changes as it may draw business away from Washington-Dulles International Airport. Lillianna Byington has more on the back-and-forth between lawmakers.
- The House and Senate return Tuesday.
- President Joe Biden heads to Connecticut this morning to deliver remarks at the National Safer Communities Summit at Hartford University around 2 p.m.
- Biden heads to Greenwich for a campaign reception shortly after 5 p.m. He’s set to arrive back in Washington around 8 p.m.
Also Happening on the Hill
A bipartisan group of House members plans to introduce legislation this week to provide a path to citizenship for young immigrants known as Dreamers, as well as others with temporary permission to be in the US.
The Biden administration is turning up the pressure on Congress to renew and expand federal powers to combat dangerous drones before current authorities expire this fall.
Maxine Waters (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, warned that financial firms’ use of AI could lead to more discrimination in lending.
Politics, Probes, and 2024
Hours after Donald Trump’s Miami arraignment on charges he mishandled state secrets and obstructed justice, he previewed potential defenses, arguing the Presidential Records Act clears him of wrongdoing and attacking the prosecution as an “evil” abuse of power.
Business and lobbying association PACs have two big problems: They’re stuck with contribution limits set in the 1970s, and more lawmakers are refusing their cash.
What Else We’re Reading
Biden lauded ticketing websites Ticketmaster and SeatGeekfor initiatives aimed at making it easier for consumers to see all the costs upfront for sports, concerts, and theater performances and urged other companies to adopt similar practices.
A contractor at a national lab and a radioactive waste storage site managed by the Department of Energy were among the victims of wide-ranging cyberattack that saw several federal agencies hacked.
- About a week ago, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the FBI sent out a joint advisory warning that a file-transfer product called MOVEit contained a dangerous flaw, one that could allow hackers to steal data from affected systems. Read more.
The Biden administration is taking steps to make it easier for young people, particularly those affected by violence, to receive mental health services, part of a move to bolster federal gun-safety efforts with Congress unlikely to pass new legislation.
The White House’s chief science office, known for mapping out futuristic energy technologies such as nuclear fusion and hydrogen, is now grappling with how to upgrade the century-old power grid to meet climate goals.
Justice Department prosecutors are among the officials who have queried Goldman Sachs over its role in Silicon Valley Bank’s attempt to raise funds as the California-based lender careened into failure.
By providing some of the most sophisticated and expensive weapons to date, Kyiv’s backers will tie Ukraine’s military more closely than ever to the bloc, showing Vladimir Putin he’s wrong to think he can outlast them in the conflict.
Russia remained the number one supplier of nuclear reactor fuel to the US last year, amid unsuccessful efforts to wean off of the Kremlin’s supply of uranium.
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