Congressional Lawmakers Agree on Deal to Fund and Enhance FAA Through 2017
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House and Senate leaders have worked out a deal which will keep the FAA funded and provide air travelers with greater levels of airport security and consumer protections.
The bill will head to President Obama’s desk before the July 15 expiration of the current temporary funding authorization.
Included in the deal are plans to expand the TSA Precheck program, refine airport employee hiring standards and expand the use of canine deployment in airports—all potential ways to not only increase the security of passengers, but also drastically shorten wait times.
The deal would also redeploy TSA employees in order to optimize security checkpoints while mandating security assessments of any foreign airports that serves the U.S.
"The language expanding TSA Precheck gives the travel industry the most cause to celebrate,” said U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow. “TSA Precheck is a rare ‘win-win’ program that both bolsters security and vastly improves the airport screening experience for flyers. By partnering with the private sector to streamline and expand Precheck enrollment, TSA can include even more travelers in the program, and make flying a more secure and enjoyable experience for all.”
Zane Kirby, President and CEO of the American Society of Travel Agents also praised the legislation, saying:
“On behalf of ASTA and the more than 100,000 Americans who work at travel agencies across the country, we applaud the leadership of Congressional transportation committees, including Senators Thune and Nelson and Representatives Shuster and DeFazio, for their quick action to pass an extension of the FAA’s funding authority through the end of Fiscal Year 2017.”
Among consumer protections in the bill is a new requirement for airlines to refund baggage fees for items that are either lost or arrive after an unreasonable delay as well as requiring airlines to ensure that children 13 and under are seated next to an adult or older child traveling with them.
The bill does not include a once-proposed plan to privatize air traffic control or an increase in the maximum Passenger Facility Charge which would allow for greater airport infrastructure enhancements.
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