Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) is continuing to push for his bill to shield the U.S. FAA from any future shutdowns. Moran in March introduced his Aviation Funding Stability Act of 2019 (S.762) as a companion to a similar bill in the House that was introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Pete DeFazio (D-Oregon).
Speaking to the Aero Club of Washington on Tuesday, Moran acknowledged that the bill runs counterintuitive to his role as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He noted arguments that providing such relief would give lawmakers less leverage to reach a compromise. But Moran pointed to the damage incurred in shutdowns in previous years that stalled the delivery of hundreds of millions worth of aircraft and left air traffic controllers and security screeners without pay even as they came to work. “I’d like to avoid all that. We are very interest in seeing passage [of the bill].”
Moran further noted the work ahead for the Senate, including the need to pass 12 appropriations bill before the current fiscal year ends on September 30. That leaves just a month since the Senate is going on August break. Congress likely will group a few bills together at a time to get them through, he said. But while his hope is to avoid temporary measures to provide time to finish up the bills, “I just can’t picture in my mind how you can accomplish that number of bills in a month’s time,” he said and stressed the need to avert another shutdown. “When a shutdown happens, it is damaging to the country, it is damaging to our economy. It is another black eye on the inability of Congress to do the basics for which we were hired.”
Moran, who is also a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, further stressed the need for trade agreements, saying Congress needs to approve deals with Mexico and Canada—key trading partners for the state of Kansas. Tariffs also have become an issue for Kansas, he added. “I am anxious for whatever conversations to take place between the U.S. and China. The consequences of the tariff battles are real,” noting that aluminum plays a key role in aircraft fuselages.
He further underscored the importance of aviation. “It’s a hugely significant component of our state's economy. We have worked hard to have Wichita recognized as the Air Capital of the World.” Moran added that general aviation “will never leave that place in my heart and my brain. It is so important.”
While conceding that the general aviation industry is important to Wichita, he also said, “I have a lot of interest in trying to keep rural America alive and well.” General aviation airports and aircraft connect those small towns to the rest of the world. Without them, he said, “We’d see a greater demise of rural communities across Kansas.”