By David Bauer, senior vice president of government relations,

The House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee today approved by voice vote an ARTBA-supported amendment that would boost Airport Improvement Program (AIP) investment by $250 million to $3.6 billion in FY 2018 and grow the program’s funding to $4 billion by FY 2023.  Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) offered the amendment during the T&I Committee’s consideration of legislation, the “21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization Act”—the 21st Century AIRR Act—to reauthorize the federal aviation programs for the next six-years.

The Barletta Amendment, co-sponsored by Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), boosts the bill’s proposed AIP funding levels by an average of almost $200 million per year.  It would assure federal airport capital grants would keep pace with both projected inflation and construction materials cost increases over the next six years.  AIP investment was $3.52 billion per year from FY 2006 to FY 2011, but was cut to $3.35 billion as part of the 2012 reauthorization of the aviation programs.  The Barletta amendment would restore this previous cut and would allow the program to help make a bigger dent in the nation’s documented airport capital needs.

While House T&I Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) opposed a similar amendment offered to his 2016 aviation program reauthorization proposal, he did not object to this year’s amendment

ARTBA produced state-specific fact sheets on the benefits of the AIP program that were distributed to all Capitol Hill offices June 26.  The ARTBA co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) urged all T&I Committee members to support the Barletta Amendment.

The T&I Committee’s consideration of the21st Century AIRR Act is expected to go well into the evening, as the panel still had more than two dozen amendments pending at 4 p.m. While the 21st Century AIRR Act is expected to gain committee approval, several members openly questioned its controversial proposal to privatize the Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control functions.

With the current short-term extension of the aviation programs expiring Sept. 30, we will keep you posted as Congress continues to work to advance a multi-year aviation bill.