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Sen. Cruz Praises Broad Bipartisan Support for Proceeding on the FAA Reauthorization Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) praised today’s Senate vote to proceed to considering the bipartisan FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024, a bill that he authored with Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). The legislation represents a bicameral, bipartisan agreement that will meaningfully address the challenges facing the aviation industry that have become abundantly clear to the traveling public over the last year.

About the vote, Sen. Cruz said, “Today the Senate in an overwhelming bipartisan show of support voted to proceed to consideration of my bipartisan FAA Reauthorization Act. I am proud to be working with Chairwoman Cantwell, and with the House of Representatives, on this incredibly important effort to making flying a safer and more convenient experience for Texans and for consumers across the nation. This bill continues many provisions that I fought for, which will help grow Texas’s thriving aerospace sector. It will also improve aviation safety, the primary mission of the FAA and something I know that all of us care deeply about. We have a lot of work ahead in the coming days, but I’m proud of the Senate for taking this step today to begin working together to pass this bill into law.”

Sen. Cruz praised the bill’s merits on the floor yesterday. Watch the video here.

FAA Reauthorization Bill Delivers for the Lone Star State:

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024 contains provisions that make for a safer and more convenient travel experience for consumers and help grow Texas’ aviation sector.

Key examples of these provisions include:

  • A historic $4 billion per year in funding for airport infrastructure projects that will boost capacity and safety at airports across Texas and the nation.
  • Five additional exemptions to statutory “perimeter rule,” allowing new round-trip flights to and from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) from locations previously excluded from direct flights. This will provide the ability for a direct flight from San Antonio to DCA, delivering a more convenient travel experience for members of the military traveling from Joint Base San Antonio, business travelers, and tourists.
  • Directing the FAA to hire the maximum number of air traffic controllers. Terminal Radar Approach Control Facilities (TRACON) for both the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas have been understaffed in recent years, contributing to delayed flights and tower closures.
  • A provision authorizing the creation of a Center for Advanced Aviation Technologies for new and emerging aviation technologies including for advanced air mobility and powered-lift. This center would be responsible for testing and advancing these technologies including by overseeing the development and related activities of testing corridors and other flight demonstration zones. Importantly, the Center would also work to facilitate partnerships between industry, academia, and related government agencies to further unleash innovative aviation?technologies.
  • An adjustment to the bill’s discretionary airport improvement program funding structures that would boost McKinney National Airport’s efforts to become the third primary commercial airport in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. While the terminal expansion will be primarily financed at the local level, the bill expands McKinney National’s eligibility for up to $20 million in federal funding.
  • Reforms aimed at better integrating commercial space activities into the national airspace system to assist launch providers in navigating complicated airspace, a boost for Texas’ thriving commercial space industry.
  • Provisions that could benefit Texas universities seeking to develop aviation-related curriculum and workforce development programs such as Texas Women’s University and Angelo State University.
  • Reforms to FAA’s State Block Grant and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) administrative funding programs that will greatly benefit the Texas Department of Transportation.
  • Funding that will improve the operational capabilities for the FAA’s UAS test range managed by Texas A&M and located in Corpus Christi, Texas.
  • A measure addressing the recent devastating wildfires in Texas by directing the FAA to develop a plan to better integrate the use of unmanned aircraft systems to help fight wildfires.
  • A provision that will streamline approvals to allow for more drone operations for offshore oil and gas facilities in international waters.
  • New guidance directing the FAA to establish a process to enable test and demonstration flights for hypersonic and supersonic aircraft making it possible that a test corridor could be established in Texas.