Welcome Back, Congress!

The ALPA Pilot Partisan Agenda reports that both chambers of Congress returned to Washington yesterday after a five-week district work period. The main order of business is expected to be the passage of a continuing resolution, or CR, that will keep the government running for the next six months in lieu of regular appropriations bills, which Congress has been unable to pass. We will also be watching for an administration report that may shed new light on the impact of automatic budget cuts scheduled for January, known as “sequestration,” on transportation and other government programs.

Previous reports have predicted reductions of 5,000 flights per day and thousands of aviation job losses if Congress fails to prevent the sequester from taking effect.

We’re looking forward to two House Committees hearings on Wednesday, September 12, covering aviation issues. In the morning, the Aviation Subcommittee will be discussing the FAA’s management of the NextGen program. NextGen investment and implementation is critical to the success of our domestic airline industry. It will improve efficiency of air operations, enhance safety, increase capacity, reduce delays for customers, and cut down greenhouse gas emissions. Watch the live webcast of the hearing at 10:00 a.m. here.

In the afternoon on Wednesday, we’ll head to the Small Business Committee for a hearing on aviation user fees and their impact on the aviation economy. The administration has proposed a new $100 per departure tax on every flight and a tripling of the passenger security tax, first as part of a proposal to reduce the federal budget deficit and then again as a part of the executive branch’s 2013 budget proposal. In addition, the Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee has voted to increase TSA security fees.

Together with the 17 taxes and fees already imposed on the aviation industry, these proposals threaten the ability of our airlines to compete in the international marketplace and remain financially sound. Read more about the hearing.