Washington, D.C. - The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure today approved eight bills, including measures to improve airport infrastructure across the country, strengthen aviation safety, help communities recover from disasters, increase disaster program transparency and oversight, and ensure FAA funding and Coast Guard pay during government shutdowns.
“The bills passed by the Committee today will speed up the recovery process for communities hit by disasters, improve accountability in federal disaster programs to ensure the taxpayers’ money is spent wisely, ensure that the men and women of the Coast Guard get paid during future government shutdowns, and improve safety information for pilots to make flying safer for all,” said Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO). “The Committee also approved a bill to ensure the FAA will be funded during shutdowns, along with my amendment to increase airport infrastructure investment levels through the Airport Improvement Program. These increases, supported by funds already available in the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, will help large and small airports across the country, providing additional funding for general aviation airports, noise abatement, and capacity projects. I appreciate Chairman DeFazio working with our side on today’s markup and look forward to working with him as we move forward.”
The following legislation was approved by the Committee.
H.R. 1108, the Aviation Funding Stability Act of 2019. This bill addresses the impacts of any future government shutdown on the aviation system by keeping the Federal Aviation Administration funded at existing levels during any lapse in appropriations.
The bill passed with an amendment offered by the Committee’s Ranking Member Sam Graves that provides for $650 million per year in additional funds to the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). This increased investment will provide for airport, runway, and taxiway infrastructure improvements at small and large airports across the country. The increase in AIP levels is supported by the unobligated balance in the Airport and Airway Trust Fund.
H.R. 1306, The Federal Disaster Assistance Coordination Act. This bipartisan bill streamlines and consolidates the collection of certain disaster information, so that following a disaster, damage assessments can be done more quickly and accurately. The bill ensures that, when there are multiple federal agencies involved in disaster response and recovery, FEMA and all agencies work to minimize overlaps in their assessments and consider the use of the newest technologies to streamline processes.
H.R. 1307, The Post-Disaster Assistance Online Accountability Act. This bipartisan bill increases accountability and transparency of federal disaster assistance and projects. Because disaster funding is often spread across multiple agencies with varying reporting requirements, helpful information to track disaster project costs and assistance is not readily available. This bill establishes a dedicated location on USAspending.gov and requires reporting of data that includes the amount of disaster assistance provided by an agency, the amount of assistance expended or obligated, and a detailed list of all disaster projects or activities.
Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Ranking Member Mark Meadows (R-NC), who sponsored both H.R. 1306 and H.R. 1307, said, “The legislation we’re moving today marks significant progress toward streamlining disaster relief efforts and adding needed transparency to the process. These two bipartisan bills, H.R. 1306 and 1307, would make important updates to the Disaster Recovery Reform Act to both consolidate information reporting and provide more access to our constituents on details such as spending or project updates. I thank my colleague Ranking Member Graves for his leadership of our conference on the Committee, and Representative Scott Peters for working with me on efforts to reform federal disaster assistance. I look forward to continuing our work on this important issue through this committee going forward.”
H.R. 1311, to amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to ensure that unmet needs after a major disaster are met. This bipartisan bill consolidates resources for unmet needs within FEMA, providing more accountability and giving communities impacted by disaster a more streamlined process for such assistance. This will improve accountability, speed up needed disaster funding, and streamline the process for recovering communities.
Subcommittee on Aviation Ranking Member Garret Graves (R-LA), who sponsored the bill, said, “There’s no question that Restore Louisiana, Road Home and similar federally-funded, state-administered disaster relief grant programs take too long and waste too much money paying contractors and administrators. When disaster strikes, disruptive changes happen to people fast – the federal response needs to match the urgency that victims feel after having their lives turned upside down. This bill starts to fix the slow, unnecessary federal processes that often re-victimize people and jeopardize recovery for entire communities.”
H.R. 1775, The Notice to Airmen Improvement Act of 2019. This bill requires the FAA to establish a task force to review and make recommendations to improve the presentation of notices to airmen (NOTAMs). Information on NOTAMs, especially those critical to safely operating in and around busy airports, needs to be better prioritized and presented.
U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN), sponsor of H.R. 1775, said, “Although NOTAMs contain critical safety information, they are often lengthy and difficult to understand. These inefficiencies have the potential to create life-threatening situations. Modern air travel is incredibly safe, but we must be constantly working to maintain and improve upon safety protocols, and that is the objective of the Notice to Airmen Improvement Act.”
HR 1331, The Local Water Protection Act. This bipartisan bill reauthorizes the Section 319 Nonpoint Source Pollution Control program under the Clean Water Act.
U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), an original cosponsor of the legislation, said, “Our bipartisan bill will increase federal support to prevent pollution at the source. Working together, we can make a real difference for our waterways.”
The Committee also approved two bills pertaining to the Coast Guard, including H.R. 367, the Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act of 2019. This bill ensures that members of the Coast Guard will be paid during any future lapses in appropriations when no such lapses occur for the other Armed Services (the Coast Guard is funded in a separate appropriations measure than the measure that funds the other four Armed Services).
Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Ranking Member Bob Gibbs (R-OH), a cosponsor of the legislation, said, “Government shutdowns are painful for the men and women who have to go to work with no guarantee of being paid. Essential employees tasked with keeping America safe should not be shouldering the burden of Washington’s failures. Coast Guardsmen risk their lives protecting our ports and shores, interdicting drugs, and stopping human traffickers. They and their loved ones worry for their safety every day. Whether the next paycheck arrives should not be an additional worry. I am proud to cosponsor the Pay Our Coast Guard Act so they receive their pay, just as the other branches of the Armed Forces do, when there is a lapse in appropriations. Thank you to the bipartisan coalition here in Congress who recognizes the need to support our Coast Guardsmen and their families.”
More information from today's markup is available here.