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"Congress Approves Key Legislation Prior to Adjourning Until Mid-November"



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Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Congress Approves Key Legislation Prior to Adjourning Until Mid-November

Airport Legislative Alliance
Airport Alert

 

 

To:                  AAAE/ACI-NA Chief Executives and Airport Operators on E-Mail Distribution

 

Re:                  Congress Approves Key Legislation Prior to Adjourning Until Mid-November

 

Date:               October 3, 2006       

 

As we reported last Friday evening, Congress was on the verge of approving a number of items of interest to airports, including the fiscal year 2007 spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, legislation implementing an agreement to repeal the Wright Amendment, the nomination of Mary Peters to serve as Secretary of Transportation, and a major port security measure.  Prior to adjourning early Saturday morning, Congress did, in fact, give final approval to each of those items as noted below:    

 

FY 2007 DHS Spending Bill:  The House approved the DHS spending bill (H.R. 5441) on a 412-6 vote, and the Senate approved the measure unanimously.  The bill is now on its way to the President for his signature and enactment into law.  To view the ALA summary of the bill and conference report (H.Rept. 109-699) See below.  To view the text of the conference report and the explanatory “statement of managers” see attached pdf document.

 

Wright Amendment Repeal:  Both the House (on a 386-22 vote) and the Senate (unanimously) approved legislation, S. 3661, that implements an agreement reached in June by the City of Dallas, the City of Ft. Worth, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport to repeal the Wright amendment.  To view a press release issued by the Senate Commerce Committee that highlights key parts of the agreement and legislation click here.  This legislation is also now on its way to the President. 

 

Nomination of Mary Peters to Serve as DOT Secretary:  The Senate approved the nomination of Mary Peters to serve as DOT Secretary by unanimous consent.  Peters served as the 15th Federal Highway Administrator from October 2, 2001 to July 29, 2005.  Prior to serving at the Federal Highway Administration, she was Director of the Arizona Department of Transportation.  To read a full biography, click here.

 

Port Security Legislation: The House and Senate approved major port security legislation that identifies procedures for a lead agency and requires the development of a plan to resume trade in the event of a maritime transportation incident; establishes interagency operational centers to ensure greater port security coordination among federal, state and local officials; and establishes timetables and procedures for expediting the nationwide launch of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC).

 

The final agreement on the port bill does not eliminate the 45,000 cap on TSA screeners.  The screener cap was the subject of considerable debate during conference negotiations on the measure given the fact that both the House and Senate were on record in support of eliminating the cap.  Also of note to airports, the port security bill includes a provision that requires TSA to develop security plans for Essential Air Service airports and airports that receive assistance under the Small Community Air Service Development Program.  The security plans are to include recommendations for improved security measures, recommendations for proper passenger and cargo security screening procedures, a timeline for implementation of recommended security measures or procedures, and a cost analysis for implementation of recommended security measures or procedures.

 

FY 2007 DOT Spending Bill Update:  Also of note last week, Congress approved a “Continuing Resolution” that funds the operations of the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration and a number of other federal departments and agencies though November 17.  Passage of the CR was necessary since Congress failed to approve the remaining annual appropriations bills prior to the beginning of the new fiscal year on October 1.  When Congress returns in mid-November, passing the DOT spending measure and other pending appropriations bills will be foremost on the priority list.  Chances are, however, that final action on the DOT bill and other spending measures will not be completed until December at the earliest. 

 

As a reminder, the House approved its version of the FY 2007 DOT spending bill on June 14.  The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version on July 20, but the full Senate has yet to consider that measure.  Senate consideration of the bill is unlikely when Congress returns, so House and Senate negotiators will likely reconcile differences between the House-passed bill and the Senate Committee-approved bill.  The ALA summary of the Senate Committee-passed bill can be viewed below. The Alert summarizing key issues and how they are treated in the House-passed DOT spending bill also appears below.

 

DHS Spending Bill Nears Passage

Airport Legislative Alliance

Airport Alert

 

 

To:                  AAAE/ACI-NA Chief Executives and Airport Operators on E-Mail Distribution

 

Re:                  DHS Spending Bill Nears Passage

 

Date:               September 29, 2006     

 

Late last night, the conference report on the fiscal year 2007 spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security (H.R. 5441) was filed, a procedural step that should clear the way for final passage of the legislation by the House and Senate later today.  Although House and Senate negotiators had reached an agreement on the measure earlier in the week, consideration by the House and Senate was delayed until today thanks to controversies over several items in the bill, including one pertaining to the importation of prescription drugs and a separate provision that extends the deadline from January 2008 to June 2009 for implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which requires passports or new identification cards for travelers into the United States from any country, including Canada and Mexico.  It appears as though the desire to complete action on the bill prior to the beginning of the fiscal year and before Congress leaves town for a prolonged pre-election break have propelled the measure forward over opposition to those and other items.    

 

As we reported earlier this week, the final version of the DHS spending bill, which funds the Transportation Security Administration and all other parts of the department, includes $388 million for EDS installation – a figure that is $44 million above the President’s request and $93 million more than was approved last year for that purpose.  The bill also maintains the 45,000 cap on TSA screeners and rejects the Administration-backed proposal to increase the $2.50 passenger security fee. 

 

The following is a more detailed summary of other key provisions included in the conference report accompanying the bill:

 

§         In-Line EDS Installation Funding:  The conference agreement includes $388 million for in-line EDS installation – $93 million more than Congress approved for this purpose in FY 2006.  The conference report states that “This funding is sufficient to fulfill the Letters of Intent, install next-generation EDSs at airports nationwide, and complete other pending airport modifications.”  According to TSA budget documents, $187 million in FY 2007 funding is needed to meet existing requirements for LOI airports.  Additionally, the bill includes a provision directing that certain recovered or deobligated funds shall be available only for procurement and installation of explosive detection systems for air cargo, baggage and checkpoint screening systems subject to notification.    

 

§         Federal Share for EDS Installation Projects:  The conference agreement maintains provisions that reduce the federal contribution for EDS LOIs from 90 percent to 75 percent for large and medium hub airports.  The federal share for other airports is 90 percent under the bill.  Once again, budget constraints have been cited as a reason for the reduced federal share. 

 

§         Formula Distribution of EDS Installation Funds:  The conference agreement eliminates requirements that a portion of the EDS installation funds go to smaller airports.  The bill provides that the funds be distributed in a manner that ensures aviation security and fulfills the government’s requirements under the LOIs. 

 

§         EDS Equipment Purchases and Maintenance:  The conference agreement provides $141.4 million for EDS/ETD purchases -- $47 million of which is designated to procure “multiple next-generation, in-line and stand alone EDS systems.”  The conferees direct that no EDS funding shall be used to procure ETDs unless they are “necessary for secondary screening of checked baggage, to replace an aging ETD system in those airports that are primarily dependent on ETD technologies, or to procure new ETD systems for new, small airports or heliports that are federalized.”  The conference agreement provides $220 million for maintenance and utilities for EDS equipment. 

 

§         Checkpoint Support:  The conference agreement provides $173.4 million for checkpoint support.  According to the report, these funds should be used to “expand the use of emerging technologies at the highest risk airports so screeners can better detect threats to our aviation system.”  The report directs TSA to “develop a strategic plan for screening passengers and carry on baggage for all types of explosives, including a timeline for deploying emerging technologies to airports and the percent of passengers and carry on baggage currently and projected to be screened by these emerging technologies.”  

 

§         Proposed Increase in $2.50 Passenger Security Fee:  Conferees rejected the Administration-backed proposal to increase the $2.50 passenger security fee. 

 

§         TSA Staffing Levels:  The conference agreement maintains the 45,000 cap on TSA screeners.  According to the report, “conferees recognize TSA may need to realign its workforce throughout the year due to attrition or advances in detection technologies.  TSA has the flexibility to hire screeners during the fiscal year at those airports where additional or replacement screeners are necessary to maintain aviation security and customer support.”  The conference report provides roughly $2.47 billion for federal screeners, a level that is estimated to support 43,000 FTEs. 

 

§         Wait Times:  The conference report directs TSA to review airport wait times over the past three years and to identify those airports with above average wait times. 

 

§         Screeners at Commercial Airports and Heliports:  The conference report expresses concern with “TSA’s current screening policy at 24 commercial airports and heliports in the United States that have requested TSA screening but continue to operate with temporary screening or none at all.”  The report goes on to state that “conferees remind TSA that section 44901 of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act requires all passengers to be screened, by either TSA or contracted screeners, before they board commercial aircraft.  Vision 100 – the Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act (P.L. 108-176) further clarified TSA’s screening requirements for charter air carriers with a maximum take-off weight of more than 12,500 pounds and for the deployment of screeners to certain airports.  The conferees direct TSA to provide screening at those airports and heliports that have requested screening and encourage TSA to consider contracting out the screening function if TSA does not believe it would be efficient to place TSA personnel in those locations.” 

 

§         Air Cargo:  The conference agreement provides $55 million for air cargo security.  The conferees encourage TSA to hire additional permanent staff to enhance the agency’s analytic air cargo security capabilities.  Additionally, the bill directs DHS, working with industry stakeholders, to develop standards and protocols for increasing the use of explosive detection equipment to screen air cargo when appropriate.    

 

§         US VISIT/CBP Processing Times at Airports:  The conference agreement provides $362 million for US VISIT.  The conference report also requires CBP to assess optimal staffing levels at “all land, air, and sea ports of entry and provide a complete explanation of CBP’s methodology for aligning staffing levels to threats, vulnerabilities, and workload across all mission areas.”  The conference report also notes that “Of particular concern is CBP’s ability to effectively process the growing processing workload at the nation’s airports that are experiencing significant growth in passenger volume and wait times.  The conferees recognize the airports listed in the House and Senate reports as experiencing exceptional growth in workload and processing challenges.  The conferees direct CBP to include in its resource allocation model for airports the number of flights that took longer than 60-minutes to process.  The airport processing section of the resource allocation model shall comply with the content requirement specified within the House and Senate reports.”    

 

§         Changes to Aviation Security Policy:  The conferees note that they are aware that TSA is considering revising aviation security policy.  According to the report “these revisions may require changes to staffing, such as who monitors airport exit lanes, who may be a ticket checker, and who may move baggage to and from EDS machines.”  Because each of these policy decisions has a cost implication, the report requires that TSA brief the House and Senate Appropriations committees before moving forward with any proposed changes. 

 

§         Transportation Worker Identification Credential:  The conference report simply notes that conferees are very supportive of expeditious implementation of the program.

 

§         Secure Flight:  The conference report reduces funding for the program to $15 million and highlights a number of ongoing concerns that lawmakers have with the program.  It requires TSA to provide a detailed plan on achieving key milestones. 

 

§         Federal Air Marshals:  The conference report provides $715 million for FAMs.  The report notes that “TSA has been piloting a program to use FAMs in multi-modal security enhancement teams to counter potential criminal or terrorist activities throughout the transportation sector, as well as supplement local or state law enforcement agencies in railroad and transit systems, within ports, and on ferries.  The conferees recognize that this mission goes beyond what has been authorized for FAMs.  Following the events in London, it is imperative air marshals’ first and foremost focus is protecting the aviation environment, including passenger flights deemed to be a high security threat before expanding their roles into other transportation modes.” 

 

§         Screening Exemptions:  The measure includes language prohibiting Members of Congress and the heads of federal agencies and commissions from being exempt from passenger and baggage screening. 

 

Senate Committee OKs $3.52 Billion for AIP As Part of FY 2007 DOT Spending Bill

Airport Legislative Alliance
Airport Alert

 

 

To:                   AAAE/ACI-NA Chief Executives and Airport Operators on E-Mail Distribution

 

Re:                   Senate Committee OKs $3.52 Billion for AIP As Part of FY 2007
                        DOT Spending Bill

                       

                        Date:                July 20, 2006

 

The Senate Appropriations Committee gave its approval this afternoon to $3.52 billion in funding for the Airport Improvement Program as part of a massive $141 billion fiscal year 2007 spending bill that covers a number of federal departments and agencies, including the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration.  Today’s action follows subcommittee approval of the bill (H.R. 5576) on Tuesday (http://www.aaae.org/government/100_Airport_Legislative_Alliance/legdescription.html?Alert_ID=790). 

 

While the committee was unable to reach the $3.7 billion level included for AIP in the House-passed version of the bill, approval of $3.52 billion for AIP represents a significant victory for airports given the huge number of competing programs included in the bill, which funds the Department of Treasury, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the federal judiciary, and a large number of independent federal agencies along with DOT and FAA.  Both DOT Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Kit Bond (R-MO) and Ranking Democrat Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) highlighted the $770 million increase in funding for AIP above the President’s request as a major accomplishment of the bill approved today.

     

The measure also includes the general provision we sought requiring the FAA to pay for space it uses in airport-owned buildings and provides $19.8 million for airport technology research, $117 million for the Essential Air Service Program, and $10 million for the Small Community Air Service Development Program.  The Facilities and Equipment account, which funds air traffic control modernization programs, did not fare as well as it did on the House side with the Senate approving $2.55 billion compared to the $3.110 billion in the House bill.  The F&E reduction is one of many that illustrate just how difficult the budget situation is in the Senate.  Additional specifics of the bill are still emerging, so we will follow up with a full report as soon as possible.     

 

During debate today, committee members addressed several aviation-related issues, including foreign ownership of U.S. carriers and the Wright Amendment.  On the foreign ownership issue, the committee voted 19-7 to approve an amendment by Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) that would prohibit the implementation of a pending DOT rule easing existing restrictions on foreign ownership of U.S. carriers. 

 

On the Wright Amendment, the bill approved today also includes legislation implementing the local agreement that would lead to the eventual elimination of operational restrictions at Dallas Love Field.  As we reported yesterday, both the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee have approved the legislative fix for the Wright Amendment as well.  Inclusion of the provision in the appropriations bill is intended as a backstop in case those efforts fail for some reason.  During today’s debate, however, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced his intention to object to the inclusion of the fix in the DOT spending bill because of jurisdictional concerns.  Leahy serves as ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee and said that committee should have an opportunity to consider antitrust implications of the deal. 

 

A summary of key items included in the Senate Appropriations Committee-approved bill follows:

 

§         Airport Improvement Program:  The measure includes $3.52 billion for AIP, $770 million above the President’s requested level of $2.75 billion.    

 

§         Facilities and Equipment:  The Senate committee bill includes $2.55 billion for F&E, slightly above the amount sought by the President.  That level is $46 million above last year’s enacted level, but $560 million below the level included in the House-passed version of the bill. 

 

§         FAA Space in Airports:  The measure once again includes the provision prohibiting the FAA from requiring airports to provide space to the agency free of charge. 

 

§         Small Community Air Service Development Program:  The bill provides $10 million in AIP funding for the program. 

 

§         Essential Air Service:  The bill provides $117 million for EAS. 

 

§         FAA Operations:  The measure includes $8.366 billion for FAA Operations, which is the amount requested by the President and $262 million above last year’s level.  The measure provides $5.445 billion from the Airport and Airways Trust Fund and $2.921 billion in general fund contributions.       

 

§         Research, Engineering, and Development:  Funded at $135.5 million.  $16 million in R&D funding is set aside for the Energy and Environment account, which is aimed at reducing the “environmental impact” of aviation.      

 

§         War Risk Insurance for Air Carriers:  The bill extends provisions of the war risk insurance program until December 31, 2007.

 

§         Wright Amendment:  As was noted above, the bill includes provisions implementing the agreement that would eventually remove restrictions on operations at Dallas Love Field.      

 

§         Foreign Ownership of U.S. Carriers:  The committee approved an amendment offered by Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) that would prohibit the implementation of a pending DOT rule easing existing restrictions on foreign ownership of U.S. carriers. 

 

Airport Alert: House Passes DOT Spending Bill With $3.7 Billion for AIP

Airport Legislative Alliance
Airport Alert

 

 

To:                   AAAE/ACI-NA Chief Executives and Airport Operators on E-Mail Distribution

 

Re:                   House of Representatives Approves
                        FY 2007 DOT Spending Bill - H.R. 5576

House-Passed Bill Maintains Full Funding for AIP at $3.7 Billion

                       

                        Date:                June 16, 2006   

 

After two days of debate, the House of Representatives has just approved its version of the fiscal year 2007 spending bill for the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration and a myriad of other federal agencies on a 406 to 22 vote.  Although there were numerous efforts – some of which were successful – to re-direct resources within the bill to Amtrak, housing, and other programs, funding for the Airport Improvement Program survived intact at the full $3.7 billion level. 

 

Funding for a number of other airport priorities also survived cuts with the notable exception of $20 million in funding for the Small Community Air Service Development Program, $10 million in funding for the Airport Cooperative Research Program, and $18 million for airport technology research.  House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) struck on procedural grounds funding for these programs as well as $75 million in funding for administration of the AIP program during House debate on the bill. 

 

As we reported last night, Mica’s objection was not based on the merits of these individual items but rather because they were funded from AIP, which is not specifically authorized by current law.  The move by Mica is further evidence of the ongoing jurisdictional squabbles that pit the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee against the Appropriations Committee.  In the past, items that have been eliminated from the bill on the House floor on procedural grounds have managed to reappear later in the process, and we will be working to ensure that is the case again this year.    

 

Also of note during debate on the bill, the House approved on a 291 to 137 vote a bipartisan amendment offered by Representatives Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) that would prohibit the Department of Transportation from implementing proposed regulations easing restrictions on foreign investment in domestic airlines.  The House also approved on a 261 to 166 vote an amendment by Representative Alcee Hastings (D-FL) that prohibits the elimination or consolidation of TRACONs in “high threat urban areas.”  It is unclear how the Senate will approach these issues.          

 

Summary of H.R. 5576 As Passed by the House of Representatives

The following is a brief summary of the aviation-related provisions included in the nearly $140 billion House-passed funding bill for the Departments of Transportation, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, District of Columbia, and independent agencies – H.R. 5576:    

 

·         Airport Improvement Program:  The House-passed bill provides $3.7billion in funding for AIP – a record amount and a full $950 million above the President’s request.  As was mentioned above, Aviation Subcommittee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) struck provisions in the House Appropriations Committee-approved bill that would have provided $75 million in AIP funding for administration of the program, $10 million for the Airport Cooperative Research Program, $20 million for the Small Community Air Service Development Program, and $18 million for airport technology research.   

 

The bill prohibits the use of AIP funds for “the replacement of baggage conveyor systems, reconfiguration of terminal baggage areas, or other airport improvements that are necessary to install bulk explosive detection systems.”  

 

·         FAA Facilities and Equipment:  The measure includes $3.110 billion for the F&E account, which funds air traffic control modernization programs and other key facilities and initiatives.  The $3.110 billion figure is $600 million above the President’s requested level and nearly $600 million above last year’s funding level.   

 

·         Cost-Free Space:  Once again, the bill includes the general provision prohibiting the FAA from requiring airports to provide space free of charge in airport-owned buildings.  

 

·         Small Community Air Service Development Program:  Provisions in the bill that would have provided $20 million for the program through AIP were struck during debate on the bill as mentioned above.  Funding for the program is likely to be added later in the process, however.

 

Note:  In an earlier Alert on the DOT spending bill we reported that only $10 million was approved for the Small Community Air Service Development Program as part of the House Appropriations Committee-passed bill.  However, the actual amount approved by the Committee was $20 million thanks to the inclusion of an amendment by Representative John Peterson (R-PA) as part of a broader “manager’s amendment” approved during House Appropriations Committee consideration of the bill.        

 

·         Essential Air Service:  The bill provides $117 million for EAS – $67 million above the President’s request.  The measure also prohibits DOT from implementing a cost-share requirement for local communities. 

 

·         Contract Tower Program:  The bill provides $97.5 million for the Contract Tower Program and $8 million for the Contract Tower Cost-Sharing Program. 

 

·         Airport Cooperative Research Program:  As was mentioned above, provisions providing $10 million in AIP funding for the Airport Cooperative Research Program were struck on the House floor because of procedural objections. 

 

·         FAA Operations:  The bill provides $8.36 billion for FAA operations.  This level is just below the President’s request and more than $400 million above last year’s funding level.  

 

·         Research, Engineering and Development:  The bill provides $134 million for R, E, &D –- slightly above the amount requested by the President. 

 

·         War Risk Insurance for Air Carriers: The bill extends the current provisions of war risk insurance, including current premium price caps, for one year.

1092nd_homeland_5441cr.pdf


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