(Senate - April 19, 2016)

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[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 60 (Tuesday, April 19, 2016)]
[Pages S2193-S2194]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, after months of debate and piecemeal short-
term reauthorizations, the Senate has finally approved a comprehensive 
reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, that will 
improve the safety and efficiency of our Nation's airline 
transportation system. The Federal Aviation Administration Act of 2016 
will not only make airline travel safer and more efficient, it will 
also strengthen our economy by creating jobs and supporting those who 
rely on the benefits of airline transportation, day to day. From 
protecting the rights and safety of airline employees, to ensuring the 
needs of passengers with disabilities are recognized and upheld, this 
legislation takes necessary steps to improve travel experiences for all 
  I am especially pleased that the Federal Aviation Administration Act 
includes a number of policies that will benefit Vermont's airports, 
including the preservation of the Essential Air Service program, an 
important source of support for the Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional 
Airport. The bill also increases Airport Improvement Program funding, 
which is essential to the expansion and improvements of airports in 
Vermont and across the country. Also importantly, the bill will not 
privatize the Air Traffic Control System.
  As the opportunities and challenges associated with new technology 
continue to evolve--both in NextGen implementation and use of drones--
it is important that safety remains a top priority. This FAA 
reauthorization bill takes steps to address the safety and privacy 
concerns related to the widespread proliferation of unmanned aircraft 
within our domestic airspace. The legislation adds several provisions 
to increase safety by adding new technical and operational standards. 
For example, the bill requires the FAA and government agencies to 
collaborate with industry stakeholders to develop guidelines and 
procedures to ensure the safe integration of drones into the national 
airspace. I was also pleased that the bill addresses certain privacy 
concerns about the use of drones by requiring the FAA to establish a 
publicly accessible website containing information about commercial and 
government drone operations, the type of information those drones will 
collect, and how that information will be used. While the drone-related 
provisions in the bill are an improvement from the status quo, I 
believe that we must do more to ensure that safety and privacy 
safeguards are improved.
  In Vermont, our airports are essential to a strong economy. They 
facilitate both tourism and commerce, and they are a source of economic 
growth for our communities. I am disappointed that, despite support 
from 99 other Senators, the objections of just one Senator prevented 
the passage of an amendment that would further facilitate travel and 
commerce between the United States and Canada, our largest trading 
partner. Expanding U.S. preclearance operations in Canada not only 
improves the travel experience for Americans traveling back and forth 
between Canada, but encourages neighbors to the north to visit the 
United States and infuses our economies through tourism and commerce. 
Importantly, it also furthers our national security. I will be looking 
for opportunities to advance this legislation moving forward.
  The Federal Aviation Administration Act represents a strong step 
forward in keeping the U.S. airspace as the safest and most efficient 
in the world. I hope that, as the House takes up this important 
legislation, they will maintain the carefully balanced proposals 
included in the Senate bill.
  Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I voted no on final passage of the FAA 
reauthorization bill because I was unable to offer my amendment to 
ensure that cargo pilots have the same rest and duty rules as passenger 
  Not only was I unable to secure a vote on my amendment, my offer to 
modify my amendment into a study by the National Transportation Safety 
Board was objected to by the other side. We should ensure that all 
pilots, whether they fly people or goods, have the same opportunities 
for rest. As this bill has many safety implications for our aviation 
system, I am very disappointed that my amendment did not receive 
consideration in the Senate.
  However, I would like to thank the Senate Commerce Committee for 
their hard work on this bill, which includes many safety improvements, 
helpful consumer protections, and enhancements to airport security. I 
am particularly pleased that the bill includes a provision to ban the 
use of electronic cigarettes on board aircraft that I had asked to be 
included in this bill.
  Mr. BOOKER. Mr. President, today the Senate approved legislation to 
reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration--FAA--for 18 months. I 
applaud the work of my colleagues, Senators Thune and Nelson, and their 
staff who worked tirelessly to get this important legislation over the 
finish line. I hope leaders in the House of Representatives see what we 
passed here in the Senate and ensure smooth passage of the bill. This 
legislation truly represents bipartisan compromise. While it takes 
important steps forward, more work remains to be done to ensure the 
United States remains a global leader in aviation, safety, and 
  This legislation advanced many key priorities that I was proud to 
fight for. Aviation is a critical means of travel for people in my 
State and across the country, and I am confident that this legislation 
takes strides to improve the status quo for travelers.
  I worked to advance provisions that help improve accessibility for 
persons with disabilities traveling through our Nation's commercial air 
system. The increased and improved data collected as a result of this 
legislation and the new advisory committee put in place will help fuel 
effective policies that enhance the traveling experience for persons 
with disabilities and remove barriers to accessibility.
  The legislation will help improve the use of disadvantaged business 
enterprises in aviation infrastructure. I authored an amendment to 
align the size standard used by the Department of Transportation--DOT--
to identify small businesses, with the metric used

[[Page S2194]]

by the Small Business Administration--SBA. This small update will 
enable more minority and women-owned businesses to compete for 
infrastructure work. This amendment had widespread support in the 
aviation construction industry including from the U.S. Women's Chamber 
of Commerce, the Airport Minority Advisory Council, the National 
Association of Minority Contractors, and I was pleased to see it 
unanimously supported in this legislation.
  I also joined colleagues on the floor and through my role on the 
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to move the 
legislation forward on policies that embrace innovation and help the 
United States maintain global leadership when it comes to embracing new 
technology and integrating UAS into the national airspace.
  From a floor amendment with Senator Inhofe that will improve the safe 
use of UAS to examine and maintain our critical infrastructure to 
amendments I championed in committee that will move the United States 
forward on new applications of micro-UAS, we took important strides 
forward. This technology has the power to enhance search and rescue, 
deliver humanitarian aid, improve agriculture practices, and news-
gathering. I introduced the Commercial UAS Modernization Act to help 
advance this technology and was pleased to see many of our ideas 
incorporated in this reauthorization.
  This legislation also includes provisions to bolster the use of test 
sites and further important research initiatives that will benefit 
safety, infrastructure, and aviation technology. New Jersey is home to 
the FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City and a UAS 
test site in Cape May. These sites play a key role in advancing 
aviation research and technology, and this legislation includes 
important provisions that ensure New Jersey will remain a leader in 
advancing aviation safety and R&D.
  Lastly, I would like to discuss an area that is ripe for further 
congressional action: the Transportation Security Administration--TSA. 
The FAA reauthorization takes some steps towards stronger security, but 
more work needs to be done to advance our Nation's security, and TSA 
plays a critical role to these endeavors. I will continue to fight for 
accountability and further resources to this important entity that 
plays such an important role in keeping travelers safe and secure. We 
must ensure there are adequate resources and top-notch technologies 
deployed to our airports and our surface transportation systems.
  Again, I thank my esteemed colleagues in Senate leadership and 
Senators Thune and Nelson for their efforts on this important 
legislation. I know this will make a difference to my constituents in 
New Jersey and to people across the country.
  Thank you.