September 25, 2018

H.R. 302 (as amended), FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018

NOTEWORTHY

Background: The current Federal Aviation Administration authorization law expires September 30. H.R. 302, as amended, is a pre-conference agreement on the FAA reauthorization and additional measures. The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved its FAA reauthorization bill, S. 1405, by voice vote on June 29, 2017, and reported it on May 9, 2018. The House passed its version of an FAA reauthorization bill, H.R. 4, on April 27 by a vote of 393-13.

Floor Situation: The Senate may consider H.R. 302 soon.

Executive Summary: The bill authorizes FAA’s air traffic control activities, airport improvement grants, and the essential air service program for five years, through fiscal year 2023. It sets terms for testing and integrating unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace. It also contains the first reauthorization of the Transportation Security Administration, and reauthorizations of the National Transportation Safety Board and the Coast Guard’s maritime security operations. The bill provides $1.7 billion in disaster relief funding for communities damaged by Hurricane Florence. It also contains reforms to the Federal Emergency Management Agency programs to help communities better prepare for and mitigate disasters and speed up disaster response efforts. The bill sets up a new international development finance agency and a new independent commission to recommend options for the U.S. strategy in Syria. A summary of the bill’s highlights is available here.

NOTABLE BILL PROVISIONS

Division A – Sports Medicine Licensure

Clarifies medical liability rules for state-licensed medical professionals to cover the medical services they provide while traveling with athletic teams in another state. Appropriately insured health care professionals would not be required to obtain licensure in the second state. 

Division B – FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018

Title I – Authorizations

Subtitle A – Funding of FAA Programs

Authorizes $3.4 billion in mandatory budget authority out of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund for the Airport Improvement Program for each of fiscal years 2018 through 2023. For air navigation facilities and equipment, it authorizes $3.3 billion for fiscal year 2018 and $3.4 billion for fiscal year 2019. The authorization increases each year, reaching $3.7 billion by fiscal year 2023. For operations, it authorizes $10.2 billion for fiscal year 2018 and $10.5 billion for fiscal year 2019. The authorization increases each year, reaching $11.5 billion by fiscal year 2023.

Subtitle B – Passenger Facility Charges

Does not increase the current PFC cap. Includes small, medium, and large hub airports in the PFC pilot program that currently is for non-hub airports.

Subtitle C – Airport Improvement Program Modifications

AIP grants fund airport planning, development, and noise-compatibility projects such as runway construction and placing lights and signs on airfields. Expands AIP eligibility to include the construction of rooms for nursing mothers at commercial service airports and security camera installation in public terminal areas.

Provides for apportionment of AIP entitlement funds for qualifying small airports based on how many passengers they had in 2012. Provides for a $600,000 annual entitlement to small airports that board between 8,000 and 10,000 passengers annually.  

Increases, from 10 to 20, the number of states that can participate in the state block grant program and therefore administer AIP grants to their airports. Permits certified remote towers to participate in the FAA’s contract tower program. Starts a pilot program to construct and operate remote air traffic control.

Subtitle D – Airport Noise and Environmental Streamlining

Directs the FAA to issue rules on a noise standard and noise testing for new civil supersonic aircraft. In the near-term, permits the FAA to conduct rulemaking to certify civil supersonic aircraft that reduce sonic booms, if an entity submits an application requesting certification for a supersonic aircraft model.

Title II – FAA Safety Certification Reform

Subtitle B – Aircraft Certification Reform

Through the organization designation authorization program, FAA currently delegates to private aviation industry entities the authority to certify mechanics, pilots, and aircraft maintenance, among other routine actions. The bill sets up an office to oversee the audit functions of this program.

Subtitle C – Flight Standards Reform

Directs FAA to set up a Regulatory Consistency Communications Board to facilitate answers to anonymous regulatory interpretation questions from FAA personnel and entities regulated by the FAA.

Title III – Safety

Subtitle A – General Provisions

Directs the FAA administrator to form an aviation rulemaking committee to review and submit recommendations relating to pilot rest and duty rules. The FAA is directed to begin rulemaking on any consensus recommendations. Also directs FAA to update rules for flight attendant rest and duty periods so that a flight attendant on duty for up to 14 hours has a scheduled rest period of a minimum of 10 consecutive hours. Increases the maximum penalty for assaulting or otherwise interfering with flight or cabin crew from $25,000 to $35,000. Directs FAA to require that new passenger aircraft have secondary cockpit barriers.

Subtitle B – Unmanned Aircraft Systems

This subtitle states it is U.S. policy that any operation of a UAS should protect personal privacy.

Promotes the advancement of low-altitude UAS traffic management services.

Directs FAA to establish a process to accept consensus safety standards for small UAS and authorize the operation of small UAS that are designed, produced, or modified in accordance with these standards.

Expresses the importance of integrating UAS into the national airspace, including operations beyond the visual line of sight, at night, and over people and authorizes expanded rulemaking authority for the FAA to integrate UAS more quickly.

Reauthorizes the UAS test ranges in the current testing program through fiscal year 2023.

Directs FAA to update regulations to authorize package delivery by operators of small UAS.

Authorizes $1 million for each of fiscal years 2019 through 2023 for the Know Before You Fly campaign and makes it a criminal offense to operate a UAS near a runway or manned aircraft.

Subtitle C – General Aviation Safety

Contains provisions relating to the appeals and recertification process for pilots who have their airmen certification denied, suspended, or revoked. It states that if the FAA administrator is going to reexamine an airman’s certification, it must provide the airman with reasonable notification and other information it deems appropriate.

Title IV – Air Service Improvements 

Subtitle A – Airline Customer Service Improvements

Requires DOT to establish a consumer advocate to resolve complaints. Initiates regulations prohibiting cell phone calls during flights. Includes e-cigarettes under the prohibition on smoking on flights. Instructs DOT to report on air carrier data for flight delays and cancellations. Prohibits placing live animals in overhead compartments and permits the FAA to impose civil penalties for violations.

Prevents air carriers from denying boarding or removing a passenger from a flight if the gate agent has scanned or collected the passenger’s boarding pass. Provides exceptions for safety. Also requires air carriers to submit to DOT a one-page summary of passengers’ rights, including compensation for flight delays and cancellations and mishandled or lost bags.

Subtitle B – Aviation Consumers with Disabilities

Sets civil penalties for harming disabled passengers or damaging their wheelchairs and other aids. Requires DOT rulemaking to define and set minimum standards for service animals allowed on flights.

Subtitle C – Small Community Air Service

Reauthorizes the essential air service program’s subsidies to air carriers in qualifying rural communities: $155 million for fiscal year 2018; $158 million for fiscal year 2019; $161 million for fiscal year 2020; $165 million for fiscal year 2021; $168 million for fiscal year 2022; and $172 million for fiscal year 2023. Also reauthorizes the small community air service development program grants at $10 million annually over the same time period.

Title V – Miscellaneous

Requires FAA and the NextGen advisory committee to identify and address any known problems with the 2020 ADS-B Out mandate, a foundational part of the switch from radar to satellite navigation. The DOT inspector general has questioned whether FAA will meet the program’s 2020 deadline.

Requires FAA to review and, if necessary, update its contingency plans for unexpected outages, in response to a 2014 incident involving a fire at an Illinois air traffic control center. Also requires FAA to review and update its comprehensive cybersecurity plan based on known risks.

Requires air carriers to submit plans to prevent and respond to assaults against customer service staff.

Title VI – Aviation Workforce

Subtitle A – Youth in Aviation

Sets up a task force to give the FAA administrator recommendations on encouraging high school students to take career and technical education courses that would prepare them for aviation-related careers, as well as identify ways to help such students find aviation apprenticeships.

Subtitle C – Future of Aviation Workforce

Directs DOT to set up a grant program for projects relating to educating students to become pilots and aircraft maintenance technicians.

Title VII – FLIGHT R&D ACT

Subtitle A – General Provisions

For research and development activities, it authorizes $189 million for fiscal year 2018 and $194 million for fiscal year 2019. The authorization increases annually, totaling $214 million by fiscal year 2023.

Subtitle B – FAA Research and Development Organization

Establishes an assistant administrator for research and development at FAA.

Subtitle E – FAA Research and Development Activities

Requires FAA, working with NASA, to submit to Congress a plan identifying the research necessary to support the certification and implementation of NextGen.

Title VIII – Aviation Revenue Provisions

Extends authority to spend out of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund to October 1, 2023. Extends the fuel and ticket taxes that fund the AATF to September 30, 2023.

Division C – National Transportation Safety Board Reauthorization Act of 2018

Authorizes funding of: $111.4 million for fiscal year 2019; $112.4 million for fiscal year 2020; $113.4 million for fiscal year 2021; and $114.4 million for fiscal year 2022.

The division adds still images obtained from cockpit or surface vehicle video recordings to the items the NTSB may disclose during an investigation. Current law directs the board to disclose relevant transcripts and written descriptions of visual information through a public hearing or docket.

Requires the NTSB to include a methodology section in investigative reports to document the process and information underlying each safety recommendation. Currently the board is not required to disclose its methodology. Also requires NTSB to periodically update, reissue, or close open recommendations, based on new information or technology or more recent recommendations. Currently NTSB closes recommendations on an ad hoc basis.

Applies NTSB requirements for assisting families after aircraft and interstate rail passenger accidents if there is any loss of life. Current law limits those requirements to instances of major loss of life. The board provides both a federal point of contact to communicate between families and carriers and designates a nonprofit organization to assist them.

Division D – Disaster Recovery Reform

The division comprises the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018. It includes provisions contained in H.R. 4460, which was reported out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on November 30, 2017, and S. 3041, which was reported out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on June 13, 2018. 

The division provides additional authority for hazard mitigation assistance in areas affected by fires and specifies that activities to help reduce the risk of future damage by wildfires, windstorms, and earthquakes are eligible for pre- and post-disaster hazard-mitigation funding. It authorizes federal assistance to state and local governments for the enforcement and administration of building code and floodplain management ordinances. It requires FEMA to initiate a rulemaking to update the factors it considers when evaluating a jurisdiction’s request for a major disaster declaration.

Increases the limits on federal payments in lieu of contributions for repairing, reconstructing, or replacing public and private non-profit facilities. Also temporarily exempts buildings in multi-structure educational, law enforcement, correctional, fire, or medical campuses without flood insurance located in special flood hazard areas from reductions in federal assistance.

The division authorizes the president to waive a prohibition on duplicate benefits upon a finding that the waiver is in the public interest and will not result in waste, fraud, or abuse, and allows funding to be used for the construction of certain water resource development projects. The division makes improvements to the program giving states grants to provide financial assistance and extends the program to Indian tribes. Specifies that financial assistance for renting alternate housing accommodations and for replacing or repairing necessary accessibility items for people with disabilities does not count against the per-disaster financial assistance cap. Provides for a separate per-disaster cap for medical, dental, child care, and funeral expenses.

The division expands the housing-assistance options for people affected by disasters and specifies that food banks and center-based childcare facilities are private non-profit facilities eligible for assistance. It authorizes FEMA to waive a person’s debt to the government for assistance distributed by FEMA in error if the collection of the debt would be against equity and good conscience. It limits the ability of FEMA to recoup assistance after three years. It reauthorizes the Emergency Management Assistance Compact Grants and Emergency Management Performance Grants programs. It authorizes FEMA to establish veterinary emergency teams.

Additionally, it authorizes certain applicants to dispute their eligibility for assistance in arbitration before the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals. It provides incentives to encourage state, local, and tribal government to close their disaster assistance activities. It improves the reporting of expenditures and contracts by FEMA. 

Division E – Concrete Masonry

This division comprises the Concrete Masonry Products Research, Education, and Promotion Act of 2018, which was introduced as S. 374 and reported out of the Senate Commerce Committee by voice vote on August 2, 2017. The legislation would authorize the Department of Commerce to establish the Concrete Masonry Products Board to promote, research, and educate people on concrete masonry products. The activities of the board would be funded by assessments levied on producers of concrete masonry products.

Division F – BUILD Act of 2018

This division creates a United States International Development Finance Corporation to aid countries with a low-income economy, lower-middle income economy, or upper-middle income economy, by facilitating private sector investments.

Terminates the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Development Credit Authority, and other portions of the U.S. Agency for International Development and transfers personnel and assets to the International Development Finance Corporation.

The new corporation may make loans or loan guarantees, acquire minority ownership stakes in companies, provide insurance and technical assistance, issue bonds, and charge service fees.

The division increases the current maximum contingent liability to $60 billion, almost double the current combined liability limit. Authorizes the International Development Finance Corporation for seven years to make loans and perform other functions. In case of a lapsed authorization, the bill authorizes the corporation to continue operating until its portfolio is liquidated.

Prohibits assistance to countries that support international terrorism and to companies with monopolistic practices. 

Requires that four of the nine members of the corporation’s board of directors be nominated by the president from lists of potential nominees submitted by the majority and minority leaders of the Senate, the speaker of the House, and the minority leader of the House.

Creates a Development Advisory Council to advise the corporation’s board of directors and exempts this council from the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Also creates an inspector general for the International Development Finance Corporation. 

Exempts no more than 50 employees of the International Development Finance Corporation from the general schedule pay scale.

Division G – Syria Study Group

This division states the sense of Congress on the urgent need for a political solution to the Syrian civil war. Creates a Syria Study Group to make recommendations for the United States with respect to Syria, modeled after the Iraq Study Group of 2006. Finds that religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria are persecuted groups and that ISIS and the government of Syria have committed genocide and other crimes against humanity there. Amends the Department of State Rewards for Justice Program to include awards for information on war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Syria.

States the policy of the United States to provide assistance for local groups in Iraq to investigate war crimes and genocide. Requires the secretary of state to advocate for the extension of the United Nations authorized Independent International Commission of Inquiry in the Syria Arab Republic.

Encourages foreign governments to identify and include members of ISIS in their information systems to aid in vetting possible refugees or immigrants. Requires multiple reports to Congress on the support for investigation and prosecution of war crimes and accountability for war crimes in Syria.

Division H – Preventing Emerging Threats

This division comprises the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018. Similar legislation was introduced as S. 2836 and reported favorably out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on June 13, 2018. The legislation provides the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice authority to take actions to mitigate threats posed by drones to sensitive assets or facilities affecting national security

Division I – Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief, 2018

This division appropriates $1.7 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program to aid communities recovering from Hurricane Florence.

Division J – Maritime Security

The majority of this division comes from the maritime security title of H.R. 2825, which reauthorizes and directs the Department of Homeland Security’s activities.

Directs DHS to update and submit to Congress a revised strategic plan to mitigate current threats to the international supply chain. Current law requires the report to describe the roles of the government and the private sector in securing containers as they move through the supply chain and how to quickly resume trade after a security incident. The last report was in 2007.

Directs DHS, through the U.S. Coast Guard, to identify cybersecurity risks to ports through a risk assessment model, and then share cybersecurity risk information with port operators.

Reduces, from two to one, the number of required annual USCG inspections of every port facility’s security plans and processes, and permits USCG to do subsequent inspections based on risk.

Requires the U.S. comptroller general to assess the operations, including costs, of the USCG deployable specialized forces, which protect ports, harbors, and vessels from criminal and terrorist attacks.

Requires DHS to work with state and local government to ensure 24-hour monitoring of high-risk maritime border areas.

Division K – Transportation Security

Title I – Transportation Security

The majority of this title comes from the S. 1872, the TSA Modernization Act and S. 763, the Surface and Maritime Transportation Security Act, which the Commerce Committee has reported.

Subtitle A – Organization and Authorizations

Includes a three-year authorization for the Transportation Security Administration’s salaries, operations, and maintenance: $7.8 billion for fiscal year 2019; $7.9 billion for fiscal year 2020; and $7.9 billion for fiscal year 2021.

Amends current law to reflect the transfer of TSA from DOT to the Department of Homeland Security. Sets the TSA administrator term at five years. Requires the president to appoint the deputy administrator of TSA.

Subtitle B – Security Technology

Instructs TSA to establish a program to authorize third-party testing and evaluation of security screening equipment to speed up deployment of the latest security technologies. Authorizes the Innovation Task Force to accelerate the development of innovative security technologies.

Directs TSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to study the use of biometric technology.

Authorizes $15 million for each of fiscal years 2019 to 2021 to set up and operate a pilot program at small hub and non-hub airports for testing automated exit lane technology. This technology could be used in place of security personnel to prevent wrong-way security breaches.

Additionally, the division authorizes $77 million for each of fiscal years 2019 to 2021 for current TSA security at passenger exit points in secure areas of the airport.

Requires TSA to provide real-time security checkpoint wait times available online and at terminals.

Subtitle C – Public Area Security

Directs TSA to develop standards to test and certify third-party explosives detection canine teams to increase the number of canines that screen passengers, property, and cargo at transportation hubs, including airports. Authorizes use of other transaction authority to test and certify more canine teams.

Authorizes $55 million annually for fiscal years 2019 through 2021, for the Law Enforcement Officer Reimbursement Program, which many airports use to deploy officers.

Subtitle D – Passenger and Cargo Security

Requires TSA to work with the private sector to better market and improve PreCheck enrollment market, including providing secure online or mobile enrollment. Directs TSA to reach enrollment targets over the next three years.

Credits fees collected from the passenger security fee as offsetting collections to appropriations for TSA aviation security measures starting in fiscal year 2027, when the portion of these fees dedicated for other purposes expires.

Expands the ability to use the Screening Partnership Program, which allows airports to choose private security contractors instead of TSA employees.

Requires TSA to revise its training for screening disabled passengers and compile data on complaints.

Subtitle E – Foreign Airport Security

Requires TSA to consult and notify certain aviation stakeholders before changing security standards for last point of departure airports. Directs TSA immediately to rescreen passengers and baggage that arrives from a foreign airport, upon discovery of specific threat intelligence.

Subtitle F – Cockpit and Cabin Security

Requires written agreements with foreign governments for the federal air marshal service program. Directs TSA to review training requirements for the federal flight deck officer program for armed pilots to make it easier to participate in the program.

Subtitle G – Surface Transportation Security

Requires TSA to base its budgets on a risk analysis of surface transportation facilities. Requires its budget requests to delineate resources for surface transportation security and aviation security.

Authorizes as many as 70 additional canine teams to work in surface transportation security as soon as possible, up from the 169 teams currently assigned under the program. After TSA reviews the effects of using more canine teams, it may raise the total number of canine teams to 200 or more.

Authorizes TSA to apply its vetting systems to rail passengers at the request of Amtrak’s board.

Subtitle H – Transportation Security

Requires TSA to annually develop and report priorities based on risk assessments of all transportation modes that it conducts or that DHS receives. The assessments and priorities should reflect possible cybersecurity attacks and other threat scenarios based on intelligence and open-source information.

ADMINISTRATION POSITION

As of publication, the administration has not released a statement of administration policy on the bill.

COST

As of publication, the Congressional Budget Office has not released a formal score of the bill.