tv Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Testifies on FAA Reauthorization CSPAN June 8, 2017 12:45am-2:53am EDT
to express what they think the alternative would be and it's a chance to demonstrate that they can get bills across the house floor and give momentum to the other items they have. >> economics writer with the washington examiner. read more at washington examiner.com and his reporting at joseph voelle. >> transportation secretary elaine chao and the president's proposal to privatize the air traffic control system. other topics include airline customer service, drone technology and the implementation of the next generation air transportation system. the senate commerce science and transportation committee is two hours. [inaudible conversations]
good morning. i want to welcome the secretary back today. this is her first times since being confirmed. i want to thank you for appearing before us today to discuss the reauthorization. we are working hard on a bipartisan basis to produce a bill hopefully during this work. how and we appreciate the administration's engagement. already this year the committee has held hearings on a range of topics underpinning the effort including safety, drone policy, aircraft certification, consumer concerns and infrastructure financing. one of the key issues we have not yet focused on but has been discussed over the last two years and occurs in other parts
of the world is whether the united states should separate the air traffic fund from the faa and create a nongovernmental not-for-profit corporation to do the job.t the faa runs a safe operation that outside auditors have teamed up a performance on delivering safety and efficiency upgrades prompting a debate as to the best path forward to realize the benefits. the president used his bully pulpit to join the significant reform and challenged congress, his administration and aviationo stakeholders to take action to improve air traffic control system. it is hard to ignore the studies and reviews to document the flaws of the current structure. i'm looking forward to a robust discussion today on the meritswi of the proposal as well as ways the administration will seek too address concerns especiallyle those in the perspective. while the reform is garnering much of the attention this week, there are plenty of other important issues that require the consideration of the
committee. the department administers several programs includingng essential air service program and is responsible for consumer protection oversight for the aviation industry. last month the subcommittee chairman and ranking member cantwell held a hearing on consumer issues and i'm i interested to hear directly one what steps the department has taken to address these matters. in addition as we craft our biln we will continue to focus on certification reform committee integration of drones into the airspace from airportt infrastructure development, aviation safety and air service. there is a lot of work to be done and i look forward to working with the administration and my colleagues through the process. with that i would reiterate my thanks to the secretary for secr being here and turn to the s ranking member for his statement. >> thank you mr. chairman and the committee for the way that it is so interested in the subject and with which we
dispatched the subject matter last year in an exceptionally bipartisan way and almostsecr unanimous. madame secretary, welcome. the current extension set tose expire at the end of september. i am hopeful that we are going to have a bipartisan the reauthorization bill ready to go in the coming week is. and i expressed my preference just a few minutes ago a bill somewhere in the range of five years to give certainty over time that you have the authorization with which you need to execute the executive branch of government.pa i would remind the committee that we passed the one-year extension with a lot of stuff and it.
95 to three in the senate. and at the time the chair man and i focused on areas of agreement that resulted in legislation that addressed the safe integration of drones and the national airspace, significant reform to the faa certification process and broad ranging consumer issues.ld this was a win for the stakeholders and traveling public which was reflected in that overwhelming vote. any further progress on the bill was supported in the house by the proposal of privatization of air traffic control. so we now operate on a one-year bill with a new looming deadline. madame secretary, i understand
that you will present the administration's support for the to an independent entity that a airlines. my views on this matter i have a already shared with you are the same as i express rather vigorously last year when the subject was up for debate because we have the safest air traffic control system in the world. why would we risk that by handing over to him on proven and untested entity and why give away billions of dollars in government assets to an entity that will be governed in large part by the airlines?ll
even some of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, which isn't so much applicable to this committee as it is to the full senate haven't rallied behind the proposal because they understand the potential harm to general aviation as well asnd small and rural communities and a fundamental breakup of the faa cannot advance when there is such strong division among there aviation's recorders and iner congress so this entire discussion over thets from privatization distracts from legitimate matters that must be addressed by the congress on the part of the reauthorization. now it is no secret that the traveling public is frustrated m
and i want to grant with the chair man said about this matter. there are ways we can be more efficient. we are at the point of handing s over a motive for communication over radar to the gps satellitet system. back as i understand it's going to occur in about three years whereas the remaining implementation over the entire next generation is going to be over a dozen years. that can certainly be made more efficient and effective and indeed it will save time and fuel and funny for the traveling public as well as the airlines
if you can go from point a to cf instead of having to go on the road because of a radio beacon from a to b. to c. and you can cut off the part with the beam line straight to yourr destination than it saves a lot of time, fuel and money. that's the point of nexgen plus having situational awareness in the cockpit so that you know at all times because you have a much improved communication system you know what other traffic is around you. at the same time, the traveling public is frustrated. look what we are seeing every day. they can't check their bags onboard flights with the increasingly shrinking sizes of
overbooked seats without paying fees so one of the airlines is ordering a whole new set of boeing 730 sevens and instead of 31 inches between the seats, they are going to get it to 29 inches because they are going to put in this new 737 and additional 12 seats with the same amount of having space.frut passengers are expressing their frustration. they are frustrated that the airlines wilmots designed a website that clearly communicate the fees and policies. they are frustrated that theesut
failing airline it systems result in canceled and delayed flights for days on end, and i see a lot of members with interested expressions on their faces because it has happened to us as well. that's why this year's faa reauthorization legislation must once again include strong consumer protection to address the growing frustrations. after all if the airlines cannot even manage their own it systems, you can imagine if you took and put all of that over into air traffic control thatso, doesn't give us a very good result. if so, what's the deal with the real problems like the way passengers are treated as w
valuable customers which the airlines obviously want to do. let's not go around trying to find a solution in search of a problem that isn't a problem. wo bipartisan lon long-term and i d say five year comprehensive reauthorization bill and let's try to do it and show that actually in this congress, we can get something done and passed in a bipartisan way so as usual madame secretary, all of us look forward to working with an excellent public servant we appreciate that very much.oo >> that's a lot to chew on, so we look forward to hearing from you and if you would proceed with your remarks and then we
will open up to the panel for questions. so once again, thank you for being here. >> chair man, ranking member nelson and members of theh committee, thank you for inviting me to testify before the committee on the future of the federal aviation administration and the reauthorization legislation. you know, nearly a century has passed since the federalal government began regulating the nation's airspace. we have come a long way since the transcontinental airway system for the 1920s and it's flying with light towers and huge concrete arrows painted yellow. in the decades since, the progression of the presidential initiatives has resulted in the air transportation system we know today and alters the regulatory framework along the way sometimes quite dramatically. to keep up with a folding than technology, new regulatory entities were created, and old
ones were restructured to make more efficient use of the nation's airspace and to improve aviation safety.h we can all take pride in the tremendous gains that have been achieved. but as you know the pace of technological change has increased dramatically over the past several decades. at the same time, the traditional model of government procurement and budgeting is making it more and more difficult to keep up. air traffic control is a perfecm example. despite billions of dollars of taxpayer investment over severai decades, the implementation of state-of-the-art air traffic control technology is not where it needs to be. so, this administration has j taken a bold step and joined many of our counterparts worldwide by separating air traffic control operations from
the safety oversight function os the faa. this administration's proposal will create a separate,count nongovernmental, nonprofit cooperative to operate thehe country's air traffic control system. the new entity will be a fully capitalized financially self-sustaining entity funded by users of its services, all reve surplus revenues would be reinvested back into the system. .. t accumulate surpluses. mindful that the key to any organization's success is the employees, the administration's proposal poses that the new in ty honor existing labor agreements and that employeesrance fer from the faa to be kept whole in terms of pay and benefits, although, they would no longer be federal
employees. these reforms will accelerate the deploy of new air traffic control technology that is so critical to managing the national airspace with more precision, thereby enhancing safety, passengers will benefit because these reforms will speed up the delivery of new technology that will delay, that will reduce, delays and congestion. air traffic controllers will benefit because the reforms will ensure they have the most up-to-date tools and technology. i want to single out, thank the dedicated professionals, who are, indeed, the best in the world. they are true heros, keeping the flying public safe every day. and taxpayers will benefit because the system will be fully financed with user fees. and let me mention again, that 100% of the surplus will be able
to be reinvested back into the system. we also believe the positioned new in ty is necessary to acome adult the expected dramatic increase in passenger traffic over the next decade. and to integrate new entrant has to the airspace such as unmanned aircraft systems and commerce space operations. my written testimony contains more detailed information on the proposal and of course legislative language to be submitted will contain many more details. it is worth noting that over the past 20 years, more than 60 countries have successfully managed similar atc, air traffic control reform efforts. each country is different, we recognize that. we also recognize that the u.s. national airspace is the biggest and most complex in the world.
nevertheless, there are lessons to be gleamed from the experience of other countries and we need to embrace transformational reform. innovation, and the ability to change with changing times is one of the hall marks of our country and part of our aviation history. the proposed reforms will ensure that remains the world's ladder in aviation going forward into the future and this is an industry that we pioneered, so thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. i will be happy to take any questions that you may have. >> thank you, madam secretary. as i mentioned in the owing statement. there have been many concerns raised regarding the recent proposals for atc reform and the impact on small community air service. i was glad to see that the
principles announce by the president this week underscore the need to maintain access and services for rural communities and my question is how does the vision, this proposal for a new atc entity ensuring that there are such safeguards in place for rural america. >> the administration's proposal will enhance safety and improve access and also increase efficiency. all of these features will help make the system better, as we have already heard, the congestions and delays that we are seeing in our airspace can be alleviated by different government structure, so tardiness with which we're implementing technological advances can be addressed
through taking this air traffic control and entity out of bureaucratic government procurement rules and we have the best and the safest system in the world. we want to maintain that. to enable the system, in the future to maintain the supremacy. weed that he to have much needed technol low cag call advances. we need to have -- technological advances. we need to have a different way for the air traffic control system to be able to space airplane, for example, and on the rural front, i am very concerned about access for rural america. currently, the rural areas are most hurt buy the status quo. in terms of low traffic towers, air traffic control tower, many of which are the first to be cut in any budget cutbackses so rural america, if prit accesses to rural america, would actually
be enhanced the air traffic control system would be taken out of the bureaucratic government and procurement processes. >> well, yeah, i guess the only thing i would add is you would understand and look at the composition and represent rural states that are with a lot of geography. not a lot of people in smaller airports and communities where gen rave i have a is is important. i, look you shall i think, share a concern that rural areas be treated fairly and there would be safeguards put in police and i guess pacifically my question was as to what safeguards in the administration's proposal, in what ways would they go about in shoring the rural areas would have access and that access to the nation's air system would be affordable. and, so if it, if you have, hean, you know, at this point, you know, since there is no legislation specifically to look at, and sort of gain that out.
that is something, obviously, a lot of this committee would be interested in knowing about. there were editorials in yesterday's washington post, several other pap ares that echoed the president's call to spin out the atc function are the faa anothe basic consince has been around for listening to emand enjoyed support by democrat and republicans at various times. what would you say, for instance, to those who argue that next gen is working out fine, that reforming the atc's system will actually slowdown the modernization process? >> well, we respectfully disagree. men and women who work on next gen are doing their very, very best. we do not want to criticize them. the next gen effort has been going on for quite awhile and it has expended billions of dollars. we're still facing many, many delay, procurement issues that
existed decades ago. i was the deputy secretary in 1989 and coming back, into the department in 2017, i am hearing the same arguments, the same descriptions of the problem as i did then. the row scurment issues are real. we need to make sure that the hard-working men and women who man our air traffic control system have the latest technology. rooting now the air traffic control system is operating from vacuum tubes and paper strips at an age where we have digital technology available, so we need to, again, equip our, um, tremendous air traffic controllers for the best tools they have going to the future. >> senator nelson? >> thank you.
>> haddam secretary madam secretary. we will have a a disagreement on this. and, and respect you, as you go about your duties, i would point out that one o one of the reasor the delays on the next gen implementation is lack of money. and lack of money also gets in the way, for example, a lot of rural airports are covered by contract towers, they are not faa. and we went through that drill a couple of years ago, and had to, had to really get with it because some of those contract towers were being cut out simply as savings. a lot of the rural airports that
don't have them now would lake to have contract towers, but again, a function of money. i don't think that when you compare that to the organization of the implementation that that is the reason why you suddenly turn all of the government assets over to a private in ty. that is my opinion and we will certainly in the crucial of debate and amendments proceed and see where it comes. i want to, i want to give most of my time to the other members because, it is prettile known where i am, but before i turn it over, i just want to give you another topic for your
consideration. takata airbags have been linked to 180 injuries in 11 deaths. several of those have occurred in my state. last week, we released data from an independent monitor that showed that after two years of the nationwide recall, two-thirds of the cars out there still have not been repaired. and it appears that since you were sworn in, madam secretary, the national highway traffic safety administration has not taken any further action to speed up the process. last friday, chairman thune and
i sent you a letter to get the process moving again, so i wish you would be refreshed on the contents of that letter and see if you could crack the whip to get them going. >> thi >> senator knows centcom a thank you very much for aa the letter that you and the chairman have sent. we are reseat in letter it just came in last few days we do understand this is a concern to you it is also to us. we're working diligent but it is not fast enough. so thank you for remindingbl as i will go back to redouble our efforts. nelson. senator wicker?
>> well, it is wonderful to see you again, madam secretary. let me just say with regard to the air traffic control proposal, that this is a tough sell in states like my state of mississippi. where the small airports are very concerned and i think, i think you are going to see this on both sides of the aisle. so the sell needs to be made. what assurances can you give us about the fear of higher airfares? higher fees resulting from this proposal, particularly in light of the fact, that the
privatizing can did and the united kingdom fund after the first six years in canada, there was 50% increase and in the united kingdom, a 30% increase. i think canada actually haded a 30% decrease. >> in the united kingdom, fees rose 30%, according to a study that i have seen. but you your testimony is in fact it the fees decreased? >> for den rigs aviation which i know is a group that's very concerned. >> ok. let me just say that is something we need to nail down. that is something we need to nail down.
>> i come from a state that his role and i know many of the members of this committee comes from rural areas and rural states. i take my advisement very seriously this concern about how to address role issues. the ironic thing is the co contt hours are much better if the government system were separate. for example. >> how do we know that? >> contract towers are the first
to go in any budgetary cutbacks. when we had sequestration, when their crs, when there is on certain budgetary commands as senator nelson mentioned but yet they are so important to rural america that the air-traffic control system should be separated to have much steadier budget stream and day bed jacket scenario so the threat to the tower's drop that is good for rural america ting about this over time. let me shift in a minute and a half. we had testimony from the air force yesterday about the global shortage of pilots. certainly that affects the
civilian sector here in the united states and with all of our allies. can you comment or do you have specific recommendations about what your department might do in working with all concerned entities to address the pilot shortage? >> the 1500 hour rule was put in by congress and it set a much higher standard for the number of hours that a potential pilot has to obtain before they can enter into service. that is really inactive congre congress. there is very little the administration or the executive branch can do about that. >> let me say there is a larger problem and i would direct your
attention to the problem that the gene men the chief of staff of the air force. there is justice shortage across the board in the military, air force, navy, in the united kingdom, in the air forces and also among the commercial pilots. there is an overall shortage which we and our friends are going to have to deal with. i would simply ask you to go back to the department and see on the civilian side and the
military side come up with a solution there. >> if i'm as the former secretary of labor what were talking about is the skills gap. there is a larger issue about the skills gap in our economy. i share your concerns about the pilots in the shortage and where we're going to get them in the future and i would love to work with you on that. >> thank you. >> thank you senator for being here. thank you for answering questions about contract towers. it is a very hot topic with our colleagues because there are 250 contract towers and 46 states. almost every part of the country is interested in this. given the question about the value, i would assume then that you would be willing to say that you will protect his contract towers no matter what? >> i cannot promise you that now. under the current budgetary process it is an issue of what is available dollars. is that what you're asking? >> yes. >> that's why the proposal of separating out air traffic
control from the regulatory safety part is to direct some of the budgetary issues as well so this new entity would be self-sustaining and self enhancing. it would not be victim to the vagaries of year-to-year preparations. that is good for contract towers. >> are you saying they will not get protected unless we do that? >> you're asking about under the current budgetary process? >> yes. >> i'm not saying i won't protect them, i cannot guarantee that. it depends on the budget you give to me and what you ultimately decide. >> okay. anyway i hope you would protect them no matter what. so, on the next gen system, do you know if the presidents infrastructure plan support in investment?
i hear what you're saying about the air traffic control system but just on next gen, as we get all the players at the table and they debate amongst themselves, i wish we could make the stay there until we had a resolution of funding issues. that is what is tempering the implementation of gen. does the presidents of the structure plan include making investments in gen? >> the presidents infrastructure proposal has come as a major part of it the separation of the air traffic control system from the regulatory safety aspect which remains with faa. in fact, the modernization of faa is the cornerstone of the infrastructure project. again there is an aviation trust fund which we cannot use even though it has huge surpluses in there.
because it has not been appropriated. there is also an issue about financing in the budgetary process from year to year and how uncertain it is which impedes the ability to plan further ahead. so, this issue about funding certainty is tied in with what the separation would be good to maintain a more robust air traffic control system. >> i'm here to work with all of you. i know this is a controversial issue. >> i think i'm with senator nelson and the respect that nexgen is paying dividends. if we get to the point where we do not get there on this discussion, we hope we'll keep making process on progress on the implementation.
i have another question relating to cargo freight issues. we recently sent a letter about the national freight and highway grants program. are you expecting to make a second round of freight grants this year? >> other grants have been under review because of the new administration. we hope to review quickly and get the grants out quickly. >> so you think that would happen this year? >> i hope so. >> thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman and welcome met him secretary, nice to see you. i think you just mentioned about the need to have a longer planning time and a longer reauthorization time when it comes to all infrastructure, not just with regards to air service in airports, but with all of the structure. i hear from sta stakeholders acs
nebraska that it takes long time to get the permitting done. first of, do you agree with that and if you do, what are you going to do to help us get to that longer planning. when it comes to infrastructure? >> it will certainly help if it is a longer time that the committee can come to consensus on. if indeed the faa reauthorization's for longer time that would alleviate some of the pressure. >> as we look at air services, specifically in the access that is there, i know that you have mentioned the needs in rural america and it is critical that we have that access to our communities, families and businesses so that they can take advantages of opportunities that
come with having their services. i am concerned about the elimination of congressional appropriations for central air service in the presidents budget request. can you tell us what the administration plans to dore cog rural communities? how are you going to ensure these rural areas in america still have access to your services? we have seven rural communities in nebraska. as you know, we are a state and really populated. if we are going to grow and thrive central air services a big part of that. what are the intentions of your department in regards to that? >> it's unfortunate that the program was restructured the way it is. i am working within the
administration to see how we can address the. i am hopeful we will have a partial solution to this very shortly. >> i would be happy to work with you on that as well. i know many members of this committee where the settler service plays a big part in keeping areas in our states connected and continuing to grow and have opportunities for economic growth. i hope you feel free to reach out to me and other members of this committee to try and work through the problems that i see with a request that has come down from this administration. i am pleased to hear that the president has talked about the importance of regulatory reform is a way that we can address infrastructure investment in freight movement across this country. sometimes when we looked at
these programs are very prescriptive. i try to look for ways that we can look at performance-based standard so we can involve stakeholders and develop more innovative methods for achieving a regulatory goal that is put out there. do you agree that performance-based standards could facilitate innovative compliance and safety, technologies, and if so has the department of transportation looked at how it could move away from more of these prescriptive regulations to a more performance-based series? >> we are in total agreement and that we have to move in that direction, yes. >> to have any examples of specific ways you're looking at addressing those right now? that you can share with us. >> there is an executive order from the white house dated february 28.
it was an effort to look at all of the regulation and from the status quo point of view that has been just issued. everything was frozen for 60 days and we're looking at that. that is part of the infrastructure proposal. we are looking also at the permitting side and we are going to announce some of that or maybe that's too ambitious of a work, there'll be a day devoted to how we can work with some of the permitting issues. for example and i don't want to go on for too long, some of these permitting issues we all respect the environment want to protect the environment. some of these permitting issues occur sequentially. it does not make sense to have some of these permitting procedures occur concurrently. it's a very simple issues like that can make a big difference. we are in fact having a
gathering of mayors and governors at the department of transportation on friday on this issue. we hope to further consultation, dialogue, discussion about it as well. >> thank you. i would just add my concern about the contract towers and looking for a way we can continue that, thank you. >> thank you senator fisher. >> thank you mr. chairman. welcome back madame secretary. at the outset i want to thank my colleague, senator moran for working with me during a previous session on the contract tower issue during the continuing resolution. we stated then and i will restate now my commitment to working across the aisle on this important issue with my colleagues.
seemingly minor issue like this has vast ramifications for country, as you will know. i've been discouraged as many of my colleagues have been by the leg and responses to similar inquiries. there is a report in political recently that officials from the white house were telling agency officials to ignore oversight requests from democratic members of this congress. to know of any such contact center have had you had such conversations with white house officials? >> first welcome i think you all know based on my reputation, i have always worked very hard to ensure that whatever department i am waiting that it would be working very well with both sides of the aisle with issues. we pride ourselves in being very responsive.
i have a history of working collaboratively with members of congress. >> i hesitate to interrupt about my time is limited. i wrote to two months ago, just days after the now infamous issue regarding united airlines demanding an investigation into the issue that was raised there. the dot said publicly it was reviewing that issue. i asked for answers about the airline employees knowledge of passenger rights. in fact, i helped to lead the effort to improve those rights through new passenger bill of rights which i hope you would support. in the meantime, i received no response to my inquiry. what is the status of that investigation. >> i'm sorry you did not receive a response. i'm not aware that. i will take a look. having said i said, it is not unusual for administration,
every administration including the previous one that any oversight responses be coordinated through the chairman and the ranking of each committee. that is separate from ordinary correspondence. oversight is a bit different in that has been the policy thrall administrations. >> i'm very skeptical with all due respect, about the plan that has been advanced that would provide for so-called reform in the system that has seen no fatality in a commercial plane since 2009. i am puzzled that the administration wants to break apart the faa up with the critical safety oversight will, air traffic control into the hands of an unknown, untested entity that in effect will be controlled by the airlines,
particularly since nearly 40000 people are expected to die on our roads every year and the administration has yet to propose a specific set of measures to build new roads, rails, bridges and other infrastructure in the campaign. president trump promise to replace our obsolete rails and tunnels with the infrastructure with what our country deserves. i'm wondering why the priority on breaking apart the faa when we have yet to see any specifics in a cut in investments on infrastructure in the 2017 budget. could you explain what the impacts will be of the cuts that
are contemplated for example in the tiger program and other programs within the jurisdiction of your department. >> the separation of faa, air trip traffic control from the safety aspect is a cornerstone of the infrastructure project. the current budget of 2018 does not reflect the priorities of the new infrastructure proposal. so the projects that were cut in the 2018 budget will be realigned to newer priorities in the infrastructure proposal. >> are you saying that tiger will be fully funded and amtrak will be fully funded and increased? >> it will be a different kind of funding as was announced. the infrastructure proposal will
be $1 trillion over ten years. it will have direct federal funding which is higher than the past highway bill of december 2015. it will be leveraged through a public-private partnership and sale or possible sale of government access. >> when will we see the specific? hopefully soon. probably third quarter. >> my time has expired. >> senator murray thank you for your presence today. i appreciate senator blumenthal recollecting the efforts to make certain the contract tower was funded. that occurred in 2013.
i would remain skeptical of you indicating the rule america and in particular contract program to be more secure with privatization of air traffic control and 13 people. as i recall to restore the funding that contract tower program there were 26 democrats 25 republicans who joined together on the senate floor. the majority of the seven to make sure that contract towers were supported. i put the risk of the survival of contract towers in the hands of congress more easily than i would put in the hands of a board of 13 people making decisions nationwide. one of the problems with privatization is removing
congress with a role to play and by rural what i mean by that is almost anyplace except the largest cities in our country is rural. i put my eggs in the basket to be supportive of rural programs more readily than my eggs in the basket of a 13 member private board. i want to comment on your statement regarding senator fisher's question. longer reauthorization is a good thing. i share that view. i was disappointed that we were unable to ultimately get a long-term faa reauthorization bill passed through the congress last time. the reason we are unable to do that is the topic that is in front of us again. privatization of the faa. madam secretary, if it becomes clear that the votes are not present in this committee or the united states senate, will you
help us pass and faa long-term reauthorization without the privatization provisions? >> i wish i could answer that question but as you know i cannot. >> perhaps i'm only making a point and perhaps it was a rhetorical question but the issue that now faces us so that face us the last time. with the administration support of this concept the chance of getting a long-term faa reauthorization in my view has not been diminished. sometimes the decision needs to be made by you and others is our priority a long-term faa reauthorization or privatization of air traffic control. those things might be mutually exclusive. i thank you for responding to the february letter that we wrote you asking about your
assurances that your comments your confirmation hearing about reaching a national consensus on this topic. we received your response last night and i thank you for answering that letter. i know the effort was made to seek input from a variety of interested parties when it comes to this topic. on a different topic, let me ask about spectrum allocations. one of the significant accomplishments that senator udall and i worked on was to expand the allocation fund to include a $500 million pool for research and development. please to see that the faa announced it is taking advantage of that pool to investigate whether can relinquish some of the 1300 megahertz band. that's encouraging. it will free up more spectrum if you reach that to employ next-generation networks, 5g. can you bring me up to speed
with your thoughts. >> investigation is extraordinarily complex. i don't have a good answer for you today, but i will get one for you. >> very good. thank you. >> i now have an order of appearance senator in half. >> let me first say that there are other issues than the privatization issue that's out there. i had several questions that should be asked want to make one comment about contract towers. i agree with the, that senator moran may major requests if this becomes a discussion i like to be a part of that.
and we would be in have a serious problem without, does a sound reasonable to? >> yes on the issue of the privatization, i think almost every question i get asked you have answered. is there short answer to a specific reason why nexgen would be better served under the system you're proposing. is there short answer to that? haven't heard one that makes sense to me. >> we can procure new equipment faster. >> that the short answer. okay. >> because the government procurement rules are very bureaucratic. by the time the government gets equipment many times it is not state-of-the-art modern technology because of the lengthy procurement process.
>> on monday, and i did not attend but i did read what the president was saying about the proposal, the one thing not mentioned was having to do with user fees. one thing about the house bill, it specifically excluded user fees in certain areas and then it gets more confusing but it goes out from the because of the organizations that are out there. was not directly excluded in the presentation that you had on monday. your assessment is correct. we look forward to working with the committee in congress. this is a point that needs to be discussed. we are willing to do so. >> the next thing to bring up as
we talk to your staff about a proposal that i have that reread for to us the flight acts. what it does is give assurance to general aviation airports. those that receive 150,000 a year to do things including extending that amount from six to seven years. then also assuring that if there is a surplus in those accounts that they be reserved for general aviation airports as opposed to others. that's one provision. another provision, i shared chaired the public works provision only had the fast act. some things we successfully did in concert with the ranking member was to have some of the environmental streamlines put
into effect that i think we could do and emulate. we have also well i don't have time to get into detail with this but have you been able to review the flight act with your staff? >> we have. i'm interested specifically in what you have in mind. we can have an off-line discussion. >> that would be good. senator booker and i have worked together on some of the joan legislation as we have in the past. we have been successful. we've got language in there that would allow drones and the environment to take care of problems that are like pipelines and other areas that have been successful. while the faa has established
this specific. every turned senator. thank you for being here. it seems every week there has been a new episode of passengers on airplanes being treated unfairly and it's created a new pair of debacles. but every instance is an example of airlines violating the trust of their customers have put in with their dollars. i would like to get your perspective of what you think the department of transportation
can do and what we ought to consider doing the reauthorization. . >> at though this is a delicate space with private enterprise with ellen to b-2 prescriptive but it is difficult to understand when somebody clicks agreed so what should be done within your department?. >> in recent months we have kept track and created a whole section of the deity web site of what their rights are as passengers and what they can expect and demand with overbooking and
delays over a certain period of time so we have helped to drive the traveling public i am not quite so sure of the protocol and i will make this point the supposedly to streamline government procurement the procurement of faa equipment is still a problem with vacuum tubes san paper strips there is such a long gap. so i just want to respond respond, there is not much improvement unfortunately. >> i want to talk about drones and drove registration to be shared
750,000 have registered their drones that congress is happy about this in a relatively short amount of time but with u.s. court ofs. appeals in the d.c. circuit's the regulation requiring drone registration for recreational use what will be due next?. >> the decision just came out a few days ago so we're in the process of reviewing and evaluating. if you have a specific viewif points we would work with you. >> consider this a request of technical assistance ifth we need to make statutory
changes. drones are exciting there are great opportunities but there are new issues and it is important to make policy of not devolve all authority to the executive branch in the sense that since the authorization bill is a live vehicle is an opportunity to make policy on a bipartisan basis. senator fisher branch and air service i take it canan speak for nearly everybody when i say the proposed reduction in funding at 108 million in the 2018 budget is alarming.000 in t and i would like to get your insurance you understand how
important this is to make sure each essential air service is part of the basic promises the department of transportation makes to our constituents. >> the budget was put together in the administration when many team members were absent. >> senator?. >> we have a situation that in secretary where they're overcharging captive passengers just because they need to change or cancelel their flight or check a couple of bags it isn't fair that they are just captured but today charging $200 to change or council -- or cancel that could be greater
than the value of the ticket from what the person actually purchased. on top of that many charges many as $25 for the first bank or 35 for the second deck to be $130 round-trip t from one destination to another and the fet epidemic is just growing, carry-on bags, boarding passes passes, blankets and the reason they can do that theye are not operating in a competitive situation. for airlines control 80 percent of the traffic and an analysis shows 74 airports are served by only one airline 165 are dominated by one carrier controlling over 50 percent. the result is the airline's
have 2.9 billion in change or cancellation fees just last year and passengers are demanding some relief to bein put in situations they are turned upside down at the desk. so what can you to give relief to these passengers?. >> we tried we posted on the web site in these are frustrating issues of for word to work with you if you have additional ideas. >> that is what i am afraid of that you can only give people notice that they don't have rights and i think with the faa reauthorization we need to insure that we makeon amendments that gives passengers rates or
protections that is made as the amendment to make sure that fees are fair and reasonable and proportionate to the cost of the service. i think we need to debate that because they have no rights. >> we try to help passengers a report that the bill of rights on bettis' issues to be merged we cannot do much about pricing but we will work with you going for wordd. >> we do need to pass legislation so what is fair or reasonable or proportionate and the whole world operates on i t right now for southwest and delta experienced technology issues with thousands of flight cancellations last summer and earlier this year .
and delta and united had too large outages within one week. so the airlines itt's systemury preening in the 21st century that they have not filled the obligations when there are cancellations and delays many dudack have interline agreements in place that allows them to put them on another airline with no additional cost to the consumer and i think it will be critical for us to do with this issue so the airlines understand we believe it is critical for them to upgrade better i t services and sometimes it did even notify passengers that they have a right to compensation because of the delay or the cancellation of the flight.
king of the department held on that issue you to make sure?. >> they are supposed to be told that they have a right to compensation and as we have heard a number of airlines in response to the recent incident they have the price to overbooking is $10,000. >> looking at the airline's and their own systems and the need to be upgraded to deal with these issues then i looked at a proposal tot give the airlines and the preponderance of the control? to move us back to the 20th century? if they cannot agree their own 80 system or figure out how to do that with their own passengers bin to give them
those seats on a board it seems given the record of safety of the existing system from my a perspective is wrong. for station prove they can do all of these on their own before giving the responsibility for taking on all of these government control responsibilities. thanks for your serviceservice madam secretary we will have a big debate here. >>. >> mr. chairman and ranking member and secretary good to see you for gore earlier this year there was a truly unfortunate incident that united airlines forcibly removed a patient blood negative passenger the united incident does not
represent a one time situation of mistreatment of passengers there are several in their brief period between united incident and to today's hearing. receiving 17,900 for complaints across the industry and that is just what was reported. i am sure that you can find them and acceptable and what i introduced to the tickets at parker to improve transparency for the over booking policies and customers have right to fly with common-sense reforms.f trap do they share my concerns of people across the country that more needs to be done better flying conditions fors consumers and how is your team plan to redress this?
concern. >> i am cognizant of the issue. we are looking at those issues and we will work with you on that. we hope to come up with something that is very commonsensical. >> there is a lot of drones. you could walk in to costco tomorrow and start playing one. my son saw one of the latest and greatest to see how these work and now he's learning the restrictions of a few can and wd
cannot do in his mechanisms when it comes to commercial use being able to work with your office on this particular issue does mean a lot to our state. there is a difference between the commercial. there's a group of millenniums that have the same interest and need to be aware and educated in the practicality. i do know they are restricted about the ports for every
airport in america how close you get to it it .-full-stop and over and continue to move forward. the technology is already there for the necessary protection that is a little more sensitive than others. >> mr. chairman, thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman and madam secretary. it's always good to see you and appreciate all you are doing here. i want to start before i ask a few specific questions and add my comments to what i think is incredibly important for my state and important for others. we have more essential air
service airports in the country. and i know you've responded to several questions but it goes back to the privatization of air traffic control and your opening comments talk about the privatization that would actually help the airport if i get your testimony right thing will be able to preserve the contract covers and some of the airports and there won't be movement away from the airports or the larger regional airports. but it just seems inconsistent.
we're moving to the privatized system and it's basically run by the airlines who are profit-making entities. the reason they don't serve is because they don't make money. the economics don't work although they are essential for the other public purpose reasons. how do you square that away if the administration wants to cut the air service and says that actually privatizing the air traffic system will help grow the airports by putting the major airlines that don't make money in the airports. help me through that. >> i would say these are two separate issues but having said that, but we assure you that the interests and concerns i share. the essential service was part of the budget of the fiscal year 2018. i can defend it, but i would say the decision is made when the
administration was just starting up, number one. on the issue about rural america, we are concerned about rural america and some of the issues, for example, contract powers is actually an issue of budgeting incident he taken out of the federal government and the certainty. the air traffic control system, the structure that we are suggesting to the administration's proposal is not one that is controlled by airlines. as a director of 13 people and only two seats in the 13 are to be airlines. this is not controlled by the
airlines. we will wait to see what the actual legislation state's to have a full discussion about this. i appreciate that madam secretary. the other attacks in fort lauderdale and brussels we need to do more to protect. i have been working on would provide airports greater flexibility to use passenger facility charges to improve the security infrastructure. for the airports in my state if money were no object and beget greater flexibility they would already be investing in various public safety initiatives such as ballistic permanent force
protection barriers along with curbside drop-off to protect from vehicle borne attacks like the ones we tragically soul in london recently. we should look at allowing the funding to be used for the air site perimeter systems. does that make sense to you that we look to provide greater flexibility to do that infrastructure necessary to protect the passengers going through them? >> so much of this is what the passenger facilitwith thepassenp to the congress. >> thank you. thank you mr. chairman for your time and testimony today i appreciate last congress they
called it the screen fast act. obviously in the different departments to continue working together to implement the opportunities it has to do with new emerging technologies and how we make sure that they are secure and how the airports are secure because there is a great opportunity for the options under the act. in october, 2015, the northern colorado airport working with the department of transportation put forth into selected as a site for the remote towers pilot program. the goal is the airspace around the innovative 21st century technology depending on the
power would be to include language that allow the airports improvement program funds if it is certified by the faa and so if he would support them being eligible for the funds to. thank you for that. the other question of force with the rocky mount in airports over the past few years regulatory challenges have been related to making it difficult to operate in jefferson county, colorado, they've been attempting the parkway near the rocky mountain airport and the parkway is the final piece of the denver beltway that would go around the metropolitan area obviously a critical transportation needs.
they have significant challenges in this would help to alleviate that. the faa first requested by jefferson county for th the right-of-way near the airport in 2014. it's my understanding requiring them to undertake a multimillion dollar environmental review of the parkway outside of the airport property even though the alignment has already been the subject of a $15 million environmental study. so there is a study that's been done requiring another one. i joined my colleague from colorado in a letter urging expeditious consideration. given the goals of the expedited approval would you commit to review the airport situation reporting back to my office? >> please do. >> international airport has been pursuing initiatives to help infrastructure project or its non- aeronautical land use
for additional revenue for the reinvestment. unfortunately they have run into red tape that increases the cost and prolongs the timeline for the instruction completion. do you think there's opportunities to reform these regulations in this type of reinvestment and if so, can you help describes a steps the department is taking to eliminate the red tape? >> we are working on addressing the infrastructure proposal because we have talked to many people in the sector and many are interested in helping to finance the infrastructure. but they are actually discriminated against and not able to participate in the infrastructure needs. that is another issue you did not specifically ask about that in the permitting we are asking about that. one example of how we can
perhaps he used the permitting process without compromising any environmental concerns is that some procedures occur, something as simple as that can shorten the permitting process. >> thank you very much. i don't know if the senator brought this up but over the last several decades we have watched the industries make incredible strides in the development of new airplanes and airplane technology, safer, more fuel efficient, reliable, and obviously a leader in the manufacturing we must maintain that leadership. one area that has remained relatively stagnant is the development and speed of the commercial aircraft and in colorado we made rapid advancements and i think there's incredible opportunities to pursue the supersonic aviation technology to allow the air travel differently that the
person in the past and it is much more reasonable and a responsiblin aresponsible manne. do you have a position on the aviation technology? >> there are noise limits, number one. we are working on this issue to defend the noise level can be reduced and that would meet current regulations. that is something we hope will happen. >> thank you mr. chairman and madam secretary. let me begin by commending the administration put for proposing something new. so often the government falls into this space where we don't propose creative new ideas even those that have been tested and proven to work in other areas and i know we have to incorporate the valid concerns.
it may enhance the safety and lead to independence between the safety side. hopefully we can improve the proposal and make it something acceptable. there's life-saving medical devices many of which are produced in the state of indiana if you utilize the use i would urge the department considered the implementation of any restrictions that would impede.
the department review moves forward i look forward to working with you however possible to ensure there are limited exceptions to the. >> there is a problem of spontaneously igniting and they don't need oxygen to keep on burning and it's difficult to put it out which is why there is such concerned. one of the current issues is whether it should be put in the cabin where if something did occur, then they would be able
to see i that something is burng and do something about it versus putting it into the cargo hold where it was originally thought of to be safer but there is no surveillance of actually making it more dangerous. but let me assure you this is a difficult issue from the security point of view you bring up a new point which i have not heard so muc with me have my stf and your staff work on this. some of them are more stable than others and these devices which are often implanted inside human beings to save their lives are incredibly stable, incredibly hard and low failure rates, so it is my conviction they ought to be treated from
the lithium ion batteries. we look forward to continuing the dialogue and incorporate some policy changes in the reauthorization on this matter. if i could briefly turned to reiterate the importance of the dot program that is outside of the purview of the faa, it is the capital investment program. back home in indiana, we have several communities depending on the long-term viability of the transport program for projects from south bend indiana to chicago. they provided the funding for the national transit program and we believe any state matches will also be there so we are
depending on this federal program blan viability so i look forward to working with you and your staff of the federal transit administration to ensure the economic benefits of the program can be realized in that communities like south bend, gary coming east chicago india indiana. on behalf of bipartisan delegation to do so in its fiscal year 2019 annual report i want to invite you to visit the south shore line in indiana to see the potential of the line in its project in the west lake corridor protection project. i know the nomination hearing we discussed you visiting indiana and i was encouraged by the response and hopeful that you might visit this project. thank you so much.
>> secretary, it is good to see you again and appreciate you answering the questions. like many colleagues i have concerns that have been expressed by the dozens of mayors across the country including from those in rural communities and one of them i want to talk a little bit about and this has been pertaining to
the contract tower program because in boulder city, there is in airport a an airport tha0 operations in 2016 and they have experienced several incidents where aircraft were using crossing runways at the same time it had close calls and also boulder city had an increase of 15%. what can i tell the mayor on whether it is going to exist and be protected for their potential benefit of >> whenever therof >> whenever there is a budgetary pressure, what happens if the contract towers become the easiest targets pretty elimination cutbacks.
once again that is why the administration is making the point that the air traffic control system needs to be separate from the regulatory part of the faa. if would be self-sustaining. it's basically a change in the government structure. nothing will change from one day to another during the transition. are they assured that they would be able to obtain a contract tower under either program whether we privatize or not, should they be able to rely on the benefit? >> dot communities would continue to be very important because of the steady budget process, there is a creator chance for the programs like the
contract towers. >> is that something that you would be advocating for to ensure they are protected under either program and that it's there to protect the needs they have? >> guess because i'm always concerned about rural america. we would be glad to talk about them specifically. >> you heard from my colleague of course i am also looking for some extension of the programs in the innovation for the test site in nevada but i'm also curious i want to make sure that if you could lay out for me i know there has been several freezes in the regulations. i want to make sure that those programs and policies are not holding back any of the development into the research regulations. >> the police put into place the case with every administration when they first come in.
none of the positions are ever impacted by the freeze. but i would take a look and i do not believe that the particular product that you are talking about has been impacted. >> you did talk about that with respect to the commercial users. and i appreciate -- i know you've stated recently at a conference in fargo that the administration is working to resolve the policies and issues to safely integrate drones into the airspace. would you concur that there is still a member of of several oversight? scenic i'm not quite sure how to answer that. it is a new field, so there are several issues flying over the heads of people for example. >> i agree there are a lot of issues we are looking at.
i think there's concerns about federal preemption as well hindering any innovation in this space. can i get a commitment you are willing to work with us to make sure there is a fine balance and we are not hindering that innovation and if you would be willing to do so, that would be great. then also let us know in congress is there a way that we should be looking at a way to clarify the intent regarding the balance to the unmanned aircraft if i can get a commitment that you are willing to work. thank you very much. appreciate it. thank you mr. chairman. as you know, i've flown aircraft all over the world both professionally but now as a private citizen without a doubt
the air traffic control system is the best and also the most complex. air traffic controllers do a phenomenal job to ensure travel is safe and efficient. this technology is neat and upgraded is absolutely perfect as a procurement issue. if there is a problem with our system is that the congress doesn't guarantee a consistent and reliable funding to do the job more successfully. we've heard today it is exempt from the federal procurement rules so they could if congress would allow them to do so procure the technology they need far faster than the current. when we last spoke i highlighted a primary goal for the act is to provide highway and transit decision-makers with the funding that they need to make good decisions and in that same vein if congress is willing to provide funding certainty then
they could have planned better, speed up implementation and avoid a conflict and dangerous reorganization of air traffic control systems by privatizing it. we are not canada or great britain and they manage the busiest airspace in the world and it's not even in the same ballpark. and yet despite the challenge the faa has made america's traffic system the safest in the world. it's certainly safer than the examples championed by the advocates of privatization. i do not think that they are granted and i will not gamble with the safety of the flight to address the reliability issues. i strongly oppose any proposal to privatize the faa, the airspace, excuse me. as you know, transportation plays a critical role in connecting the communities across this country and an economic opportunities and as a
member of the infrastructure related committees, one of my priorities is to ensure communities are located and benefit from the result from that investment so that those jobs remain and this is important is one come and go areas. in 2015 congress established a local labor program that allowed the municipalities to consider geographic hiring preferences, economic-based and laboring for veterans. as a metric of the business to pilot had been renewed twice most recently for five years. considering the focus of the hearing would you connect to working with me to expand the program to aviation projects? >> i don't know enough about it i'm always willing to work with members of congress.
>> that would be great. if you look at the fact that it's been renewed twice this is a good sign of the success and i would hope we could expand it. of the year this year your authors delete a rule that would have made it easier for consumers living with disabilities to know how frequently they damage noted dae equipment like wheelchairs or scooters. i sent you a letter asking you to explain the decision to delay the rule that you haven't responded yet and in fact you just told senator blumenthal you have a reputation of always responding. >> [inaudible] will you commit to responding to my letter now lacks >> absolutely. >> thank you. along the way, as they former member of the house oversight committee, i believe congress has a constitutional obligation
to ensure taxpayers dollars are spent wisely and we helped foster an environment where any individual regardless that crowd can achieve the american dream. oversight of the branch shouldn't be a partisan issue. transparency and accountability shouldn't be a partisan issue so i am troubled that the white house ordered federal agencies to disregard requests for information from congressional democrats. i'm sure my republican colleagues see the folly in this directive as we know both parties have experienced in the minority. will you commit to providing all of this is not just republicans with timely responses to requests for information? >> i always have come at this particular issue is different from it is an oversight issue and administrations past including the current committee oversight comes from a ranking. >> that we haven't always
required the chairman to sign off. >> this is not a new practice. it was followed by the previous administration as well. >> when did they feel the need to issue a new letter and mr. chairman and i would request unanimous consent that the article i have on the white house orders agencies to ignore democrats oversight request would be included in the record. why would the white house have the need to do that? >> you would have to ask the white house. >> thank you so much. >> senator klobuchar. >> thank you so much madam secretary. i was there earlier and heard a few of your answers and had some other things that i wanted to first of all reiterate i know that the senator talked about some of our concerns with air traffic control reform and i know we will be talking about those going forward and some of the essential air service budget cuts that i know senator fisher and senator shots mention.
i thought i would focus on something that hasn't been discussed, the small airplanes revitalization act which i introduced with senator murkowski that was signed into law and requires the faa to modernize the certification regulations for small airplanes design and there is still work to do on the certification process. the senator passed reauthorization bill from last time and for the positions to further streamline the certification process and i'm hopeful that this will include certification reforms. how would the companies be affected if they fell behind other countries in developing new certification standards? >> we certainly would not want that to happen. we would want to be up to date and responsive so we would continue to work on that. >> i think it is important that
we manufacture some of this and we try to keep up to date to compete with other nations in the love of god is safety reform. the open skies agreement is a part of the policy for all air carriers both democratic and republican administrations pursued and expanded these agreements which have provided u.s. consumers and carriers and airports with more choice. senator isakson and i send you a concern about state owned carriers. you reaffirm the value of the open skies agreement and we are concerned about the negative effects if this keeps going that this will have for american carriers and american jobs. what steps are the administration taking to ensure
that the agreements are protecting u.s. workers and carriers from unfair competition? >> we are concerned about protecting u.s. jobs and a. that is good. thank you. >> it isn't just about the quality. as you know it is also depending on our own 8 feet asian workforc-- asian airforce both e ground. the safe skies act which is reintroduced as something that i introduced with senator boxer.
after the flight 347 and apply them to cargo pilots. currently they have loose requirements. what actions are being taken to combat fatigue? if the congress has a different point of view we look forward to working with you on that. >> one last question i had a letter urging the dot to investigate incidents of fraudulent and deceptive practices in the online travel and tourism marketplace. we know some companies imitate the websites of actual airlines in order to attract the legislation on the fraudulent sites that can leave consumers with airline itineraries that can't be honored and missed
connections and cost money. is the department taking some new steps to combat what is a relatively new problem and that is the online travel. >> we are very cognizant of this issue and i hope to have more staffing in the future as we go forward. that certainly will help us address this issue as well. >> okay. very good. one last question in the extension bill that requires the department measures when traveling on a plane there hasn't been a study yet. we are sympathetic to the public who have family members that are so debated. we look forward to working with
you. >> i heard some of the answers when i was here. thank you for your service. >> let me ask a question regarding the community that is concerned about how they would fare under the proposed system. it stresses the importance of maintaining access but also note all users of the system should pay their fair share. does the administration envision them being able to charge per flight on general aviation operators? >> i'm glad you brought that up because in my statements i have not mentioned the aviation and i was going to add my testimony
today with the mentioning of the general aviation interest. we are very concerned about obviously the administration's proposal. we are committed to working with them on this issue. they would be nominating two out of the 13 seats. again the interest and influence will be felt. the other thing i should say is it includes a difference in the mom and pop around the country so we understand the issues general aviation is concerned about and we want to work with
them. >> one of the concerns they have is the cost to access the airspace and whether or not the fees would be assessed. that's the specific question whether the administration envisions the fees on general aviation operators and that is the question i think the bill -- >> using one example and that is canada. i think it is like $65 for the year. there is a consensus on that particular issue in that we are moving forward with legislation. we would love to do a multi-year reauthorization bill that would attract broad support in the
senate. that was the case we had last time. so i guess what i would suggest coming out of the hearing is you and your team and the administration make every effort possible to try to find consensus among the stakeholder community on this issue because it is easier to get a consensus on this committee and the senate if there is a consensus among those that are going to be most impacted by the proposed changes. and right now i think as you heard today there are questions on both sides of how it would function and operate, so the more precise as you work through the answers of the questions can have more clarity about this committee and the broad sense of the whole senate might be.