In a deft political maneuver that capitalizes on the perceived need of Congress to deliver election-year public works spending, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) attached an amendment today imposing helicopter flight restrictions in Long Island and Los Angeles to the $52 billion federal highway bill (S.1813). This amendment would mandate offshore routes for helicopters transiting the North and South sections of Long Island and require the FAA to develop more restrictive flight paths for civil helicopters operating over the Los Angeles basin.
Early last month President Bush departed for a month-long hiatus in Texas and just about the same time Congress opted to take its August recess. So, the dog days of August descended on a more or less deserted legislative Washington.
Lawmakers escaped the dog days of August in Washington by taking a vacation and returned the first week of September to face a multitude of concerns, though few involve aviation.
• With many eyes focused on the Presidential election date, both houses of Congress worked diligently on such agenda items as tax cuts, disaster relief, counter-terrorism measures and so on so that they could recess on or about October 8 for legislators to hit the campaign trails. How Congressional elections go will affect Senate and House party majorities and, therefore, who will chair various committees.
•Congress took a legislative break from November 18 to December 12 but, before leaving, both houses passed H.R.3058, the FY2006 Transportation, Treasury and Housing appropriations bill that provides funding for those agencies through September. The bill authorizes $13.8 billion for the FAA, $276 million more than the agency’s budget for FY2005, and $1.1 billion more than President Bush requested.