The U.S. Senate has brought the FAA reauthorization bill to the floor. We still have a ways to go before the bill is voted on by the full Senate, and before a conference with the House yields final legislation that can be signed into law by President Obama. But I feel like we are as close as we’ve been since this process started more than three years and eight extensions ago.
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt made an excellent argument in his speech to FAA’s annual Forecast Conference on the need to invest in aviation infrastructure, and John Infanger, one of the best aviation journalists, wrote an excellent blog on the same subject. For the life of me, I just can’t understand those who say the correct response to our air transportation challenges is to reduce our investment in infrastructure. Just doesn’t make sense.
The purpose of air transportation is to move people and products to destinations and markets. When I worked in state government helping the governor sell Virginia as a place to do business, that was always a big selling point – and businesses responded (400,000 jobs were created in Virginia during those four years). It has been a fact of economic life since the earliest days of human existence: when you can transport goods and people to destinations and markets, you promote economic activity and job creation. Economic activity and job creation place even more pressure on the transportation system. When you improve your infrastructure, more jobs are created, and it goes on and on throughout the entirety of human existence. Those who argue otherwise might as well argue against the laws of physics.
This bill will lead to the creation of more than 360,000 jobs over its life (assuming the House provision on the Passenger Facility Charge is accepted in conference); and the preservation of tens of thousands more. By improving our infrastructure and by improving air traffic control, it will make our economy more efficient and help the environment. And, because the airport grant program is already paid for and the PFC user fee is a local fee, spent and collected locally, all this will be accomplished without increasing the federal deficit. We can leave our children and grandchildren an air transportation system worthy of the 21st century that will promote job creation and opportunity for them, and leave them a cleaner environment. And, we can do this without adding to their debt burden.
Man, I’d like to be a politician delivering THAT speech to my constituents after having voted for this bill.