WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to improve aviation safety and service, the U.S. Senate voted 88-4 last night to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for five years and also passed a short-term, one week extension to give the U.S. House of Representatives an extra week to consider and approve the measure before its expiration deadline, which is now May 17.

To bolster air safety, wisely invest in the nation’s airports and aviation system, and protect consumers, passengers, and aviation industry workers, U.S. Senator Jack Reed voted in favor of the five-year reauthorization of the FAA.

Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees FAA funding, says passing the long-term bill and preventing disruption to the nation’s air travel system is paramount and urged the House to approve the Senate-passed bill. 

According to Senator Reed, the FAA reauthorization bill will help keep federal funding for Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport (PVD) on schedule; hire more air traffic controllers and make technology improvements; codify the U.S. Department of Transportation’s recent rule requiring airlines to make it easier for stranded air travelers to get their money back; and enact other key measures to improve runway safety and avoid near-collisions.

Senator Reed says the final bill also includes measures designed to protect airline employees from assault, including both passenger service agents and flight attendants.  The bill will also help create new pathways for veterans to become aircraft technicians and grows the veteran pilot pool.  And it requires the FAA to establish a new system for continuous aircraft tracking, including the altitude, location and identity of high-altitude balloons.

“I voted for this long-term, bipartisan bill to strengthen air safety standards nationwide and help bring more investment and infrastructure improvements to local airports, including Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport,” said Senator Reed.  “U.S. airports and airlines have seen substantial growth, and we must ensure we continue to invest in the technology, facilities, and infrastructure to keep them safe and efficient.”

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024 authorizes more than $105 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration and $738 million in appropriations for the National Transportation Safety Board for fiscal years 2024 through 2028, including:

  • $66.7 billion for FAA operations to fund key safety programs, from aircraft certification reform to air carrier oversight, and enable hiring, training, and retention of safety-critical staff like air traffic controllers and technical engineers.
  • $17.8 billion for FAA facilities and equipment to fund modernization of key technologies and systems to ensure the resilience and development of the world’s most complex airspace system.
  • $19.35 billion for FAA airport infrastructure improvement grants to support more than 3,300 airports nationwide in meeting increasing demand and integration of emerging technologies.
  • $1.59 billion for FAA research, engineering and development to help America stay competitive in the global race for innovative and sustainable aerospace technology.

In debating this bill, the Senate examined a number of other issues related to aviation safety, including the number of flights landing at National Airport in Washington, DC, which experienced a near-miss on its runway last month.  Senator Reed supported a proposal to vote on an amendment by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA) that would prioritize passenger safety over adding more flights to National Airport’s busy runway.  However, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) blocked a vote on the amendment.

The FAA’s current authorization dates back to 2018, when the most recent long-term reauthorization bill was passed.

The House -- which had passed a one week extension earlier this week -- must now pass the Senate version of the long-term FAA reauthorization bill before the measure can be sent to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.