By Bill Deere, NATA Senior Vice President for Government and External Affairs
Today, the full Senate Appropriations Committee approved for floor action its version of the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2015 that will begin on October 1, 2014. The bill provides $15.86 billion to the FAA for next year, $580 million above the administration request. Similar to its House counterpart, a report prepared by the Committee accompanies the legislation and provides greater detail on the spending levels for individual FAA programs as well as expressions of congressional interest and required reports on a variety of aviation related subjects.
The Committee provided $149 million for the contract tower program including $10.35 million for the cost share program both amounts above the Administration request. These levels track very closely with the levels requested by NATA and number of other aviation associations in a letter to House and Senate Appropriators earlier this year.
Like its House counterpart, the Senate also expressed support for streamlining the certification process and requested a report on the measures of effectiveness that FAA is applying to its work in implementing the recommendations of the Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC).
Senate appropriators expressed particular interest in the FAA’s progress toward improving the consistency of regulatory interpretation. It exemplified its concern by citing a recent divergence in interpretation between the Seattle, Juneau and Anchorage flight standards district offices. As a result, the Committee directed the FAA to include a section in its annual aviation safety workforce plan devoted to the actions undertaken and planned by the agency to improve the consistency of its regulatory interpretations.
Majority Leader Reid has indicated at least two weeks will be set aside in June for the consideration of appropriations bills. The full House will take up its version of the legislation as early as next week. NATA will continue to keep you apprised as events unfold.