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FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 26, 2018
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Transportation


Mr. BRAT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to thank Chairman Shuster and Chairman Thune for the inclusion of the Airport Investment Partnership Program and the removal of the ``flags of convenience'' language in H.R. 302, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

Similar to Brat 150, an amendment I filed to the Rules Committee on H.R. 4, this bill will improve the Airport Privatization Pilot Program by making it permanent, eliminating the numerical limits on airport participation, and providing grants to help with predevelopment planning costs. The new program will be called the Airport Investment Partnership Program. Airports that are looking to reorganize will soon be able to utilize this program as a viable option to achieve their goals. It is my hope and belief that through these changes, more airports will have an opportunity to increase profitability, efficiency, and improve the traveler experience.

In addition, I am pleased that the final language of H.R. 302 does not include so-called airline ``flags of convenience'' restrictions. The original language proposed was anticompetitive and would have threatened U.S. Open Skies agreements that have brought consumers more options and better prices. The fact is consumers want more choices, not less. That is why I introduced H.R. 5000, the Free to Fly Act. The Free to Fly Act would repeal an outdated regulation from the Great Depression-era which artificially caps foreign ownership in U.S. airlines at twenty-five percent. This regulation is among the strictest in the world, increases the cost of capital, and limits consumer choice. The Free to Fly Act would also require any foreign U.S. airline subsidiaries to be established and regulated under U.S. law, be based in the United States, and only employ American workers.

The Free to Fly Act has been endorsed by a wide array of organizations, from conservative groups such as the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, business interests like the U.S. Travel Association, Airports Council International-North America, Travel Tech, and the Business Travel Coalition, taxpayer watchdogs like the National Taxpayers Union and Taxpayers Protection Alliance, and consumer groups such as Travelers United, FlyersRights.org, Air Travel Fairness, and Consumer Action for a Strong Economy. Both the travel industry and consumers recognize a need for such a change and for more competition.

I hope Congress will turn to the free market more as a solution for financing our infrastructure needs and improving the travel experience for all Americans, and I applaud Chairman Shuster and Chairman Thune on the inclusion of the Airport Investment Partnership Program and the removal of the ``flags of convenience'' language in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.