Senator Hutchison Lauds Passage of Milestone Long-term FAA Funding Bill

Praises bipartisan work with Rockefeller, Mica, Rahall that leads to end of inefficient short-term extensions

February 6, 2012

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, today praised the passage of bipartisan legislation to fund the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for four years. The bill, H.R. 658, the Conference Report to the FAA Reauthorization Act, is a long-term funding bill which will provide the FAA with the necessary funding to ensure stability, improve aviation safety and modernize critical infrastructure.

 “This bill will provide a clear, stable way forward for our airports and the FAA to operate and make the sound fiscal investments to ensure that we have a seamless system.  It is time that we finally create some stability in the aviation sector and I believe this bill will do just that,” Sen. Hutchison said. 


 A portion of Senator Hutchison’s remarks today on the Senate floor follow.  


“Mr. President, I want to thank the distinguished Chairman of the Commerce Committee for all that he said, and I really appreciate working with him because we have had 23 extensions, you know that this was a hard bill to pass. Since 2007, we have been trying to reauthorize the FAA and particularly increase aviation safety and put our NextGen air traffic control system in place. That has been the primary moving force.”



“What is good about the bill that is before us today is the major principals have been addressed, and the people who were most affected by those have been able to see the big picture that we needed to address in this bill.  The bill will give our airports the ability to grow, expand, and repair with the aviation trust fund, and it will be in a stable environment because we have four years after this bill is passed. So I do want to thank the Chairman and all who have worked on this bill.”



“First on safety, the bill does improve aviation safety, including the development of a plan to reduce runway incursions and operational errors, along with significant safety improvements for helicopter emergency medical service operators and their patients.


“The bill modernizes our antiquated air traffic control system and moves us one step closer to a more efficient and effective use of our national airspace. Specifically, it focuses on advancing the Next Generation air transportation system, which we call NextGen, and it improves the management practices and oversights of the agency in the modernization efforts. When fully implemented, NextGen will fundamentally transform air traffic control from a ground-based radar system to a satellite-based system that uses global positioning navigation and surveillance, digital communications and more accurate weather services.”



“Some people will say well, NextGen, what does it mean? Well, it's going to open more airspace for our airplanes' use, both scheduled and general aviation. It will reduce delays because you're going to have better scheduling. You're going to have more accurate capabilities to schedule and therefore will open up more airspace for use by our general aviation as well as our scheduled carriers.”