WASHINGTON D.C. – The U.S. Senate passed bipartisan legislation Tuesday that would provide needed support to airports around Wyoming while addressing security concerns and reauthorizing funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., praised provisions in the legislation that would restore Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening at the Sheridan airport and ensure that airports can continue to receive Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding despite downturns in regional air service caused by Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
Some smaller airports are at risk of losing funding after federal regulations in 2013 caused a decrease in regional air service. Enzi originally introduced, and Barrasso cosponsored, the Small Airport Regulation Relief Act to provide relief to airports that could lose their AIP funding.
By including it in the FAA reauthorization, these smaller airports will be able to rely on AIP funding for infrastructure, safety improvements, and other upgrades if the bill is passed by the House and signed by the president.
The provision that would return TSA screening to Sheridan was originally part of the Treating Small Airports with Fairness Act, introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and cosponsored by Enzi and Barrasso. The language specifically requires the TSA to restore federal passenger screening operations at airports that have reestablished commercial air service, like Sheridan.
The Senate bill also includes passenger-friendly provisions, such as refunds for lost or delayed bags, along with new security and counterterrorism measures and language to address growing cybersecurity threats. All the new measures in the bill are accomplished without raising fees or taxes on passengers or imposing heavy-handed regulations that threaten consumer choice, the senators said.
A consumer columnist for the Washington Post called the bill, “one of the most passenger-friendly Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bills in a generation.”
The Senate passed the legislation by a vote of 95-3 and it is now headed to the House for consideration.