ICYMI: Sam Graves Delivers Closing Statement on FAA Reauthorization During T&I Markup
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Sam Graves delivered the following remarks to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee during markup of T&I’s FAA reauthorization bill. The 21st Century AIRR Act passed the Committee by a vote of 32-25.
For the last three years, those of us in this Committee and representatives from across the aviation industry have debated the necessity of comprehensive air traffic control reform.
Last year, a bill worked through T&I to comprehensively reform America’s ATC system. I felt, however, that it ultimately created more problems than it solved.
Since then, I’ve had numerous discussions with Chairman Shuster regarding FAA Reauthorization, and the best approaches for keeping our skies safe and free. I commend the Chairman for his genuine commitment to addressing my concerns and working through these issues. Because of that commitment, our ability to find compromise, and our shared desire to shape a bill that’s in the best interest of aviation and our country as a whole, I am here today supporting this legislation.
I’ve been a pilot for virtually my entire life, and I’ve been interacting with people in this community for about two decades now. From daily conversations with other pilots to personal experiences I’ve had, I extensively understand the issues facing this industry. These are the areas where I focused my attention during this debate, and I feel very confident that we’ve addressed them here.
Among those issues were guaranteeing no user fees were levied on any segment of general aviation; maintaining parity on the governing board; protecting access to American airspace, air traffic services and airports for all segments of the aviation industry; and ensuring the long term sustainability of the Airport Improvement Program, or AIP, which is the main source of funds for our small airports.
With those issues off the table, the final question that remains is a simple one. Do we trust the government or a private entity to more efficiently manage our nation’s air traffic control network?
As a conservative, the answer for me is an easy one. The federal government should not be managing our ATC system.
The public sector has never been defined by its efficiency. And the private sector has always been better positioned to oversee a project that’s completed on time and under budget.
The FAA is no different. No federal agency, including the FAA, has been properly equipped to successfully deliver on a long-term capital project like NextGen because there are simply too many barriers in the federal procurement process, not the least of which is funding uncertainty created by the political process. And I know we can do better.
When we talk about FAA reauthorization, I think about protecting the skies so all of aviation can continue flying safely, securely and freely. This is the beginning of a long process, and we’re in the very beginning stages. Regardless, I support the bill before us today. And I look forward to continuing to work with the Chairman and my colleagues to ensure we have a final product that is positive for all of aviation as this bill makes its way through Congress.