• Pushing hard to wrap up business before they took their customary August break, lawmakers devoted a good deal of time to deciding what to do about the Iraq war and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
An appropriations bill approved by the House of Representatives shortly before Congress adjourned for its summer recess contains increases for NASA aeronautics research, along with hikes for exploration and earth and space sciences.
In an unusual display of harmony, leaders of 18 aviation associations signed a letter to President Bush asking that he appoint a new FAA Administrator to the normal five-year term instead of a recess appointment that might not be approved by the Senate by the end of the next session. “Our nation cannot afford a recess appointee as we face the time-critical challenge of modernizing our nation’s aviation infrastructure,” the letter stated.
As part of what they called their duty to the American people, Congressional democrats were able to pass S.1, the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, before they went on recess last week. The bill calls for increased disclosure on the lobbying process and, more important, a provision restricting the use of private aircraft for senators and representatives.
The future of the Defence Export Services Organisation is under review by the new UK government. The agency promotes British arms sales abroad, and has administered the ongoing but controversial Al-Yamamah contracts through which the UK sold the Royal Saudi Air Force 120 Tornado combat jets, 50 Hawk and 50 PC-9 trainers, all supplied and supported by BAE Systems.
In our final edition at the recent Paris Air Show we revealed that Saudi Arabia had already concluded a contract for 72 Eurofighter Typhoons with the UK government worth $16 billion for the airframes alone.
Congress last week passed a far-reaching security bill that deals with both cargo and general aviation security, among other things. The bill, “Improving America’s Security Act of 2007,” marks a major change in how cargo will be screened.
The House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees appropriations in the lower chamber, heard from a number of players in the user-fee debate yesterday, bringing the FAA funding battle that much closer to resolution. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and ranking member Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) both spoke. Rep.
The two buildings that house the offices of the FAA in Washington have been named after the Wright brothers. The structures are situated along Independence Avenue, separated from each other by 7th Street.
• Congress recessed for about a week to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday and returned to face a full plate of pending legislation before recessing again from July 26 through early next month. As of June 25, the bill count in the House of Representatives rose to 4,753 and, in the Senate, to 2,606, which certainly gave legislators plenty to debate.