The House T&I Committee Is Back In Action With A Morning Hearing on Next Year’s FAA Reauthorization
The full committee hearing kicks off at 10 a.m. and witnesses include leaders of several top Aviation Groups and DOT IG Calvin Scovel. Rep. Rick Larsen, ranking member on the aviation subcommittee,told MT this hearing is just the latest in a series of steps he and aviation chairman Frank Lobiondo have taken to get the bill queued up before next year’s deadline. Because we have time to do it, we should do it. There’s no reason to wait until next year to start new hearings, he said. On the other side of the Capitol, members of the freight stakeholders coalition meet to brief Senate staffers on their reauthorization priorities. The freight panel, which includes rail, port and manufacturing representatives, will be moderated by our own Adam Snider. At lunchtime, former AAAE President Chip Barclay will receive an Aero Club award for his long career in the aviation industry. Barclay retired from AAAE last December after serving as the group’s president for 30 years.
The Senate Banking Committee meets at 10 a.m. to vote on two administration posts,including the nomination of Therese McMillan to lead the FTA. Also in the morning,the NTSB meets to discuss the agency’s investigation into a handful of Metro-North accidents that have occurred since March 2013 and issue new railroad safety recommendations. Last month the NTSB released reports on each investigation and found a pattern of safety lapses in all five accidents, including the deadly Metro-North derailment in the Bronx last December. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Chuck Schumer and Chris Murphy have criticized the FRA for failing to properly oversee Metro-North and other railroads and have promised to introduce legislation on the issue. Also on Wednesday, the Farm Foundation holds a forum on transportation challenges in the ag industry with representatives from BNSF and the American Trucking Associations present.
The Senate Commerce Committee holds an afternoon hearing on the Takata airbag defect, which has been linked to at least five deaths and has resulted in the recall of about 8 million cars. Sen. Bill Nelson, likely the committee’s next ranking member and an outspoken critic of NHTSA’s handling of the recall, will lead the full committee hearing. The Thursday hearing will be Congress’ first crack at the airbag recall and lawmakers are sure to be tough on NHTSA, which has remained in congressional crosshairs this year over its handling of high profile recalls first with the GM ignition switch defect and most recently Takata.Also on Thursday, Norwegian Air CEO Bjorn Kjos speaks at the International Aviation Club luncheon.Kjos remarks come just a few days before DOT officials are scheduled to meet with the European Commission over NAI’s foreign carrier permit Application.
ONE-MONTH EXTENSION FOR GM VICTIM FUND The General Motors victim compensation fund will now accept injury and death claims related to its faulty Ignition switches through January, fund manager Ken Feinberg announced late Sunday night. The deadline to file claims was originally Dec. 31 but that date had been questioned, particularly by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, once it came to light that the family of at least one of the first victims identified by GM had not been notified of the link to the ignition switch recall until two weeks ago. GM has sent notices to 4.5 million car owners already and will be sending out information to an additional 850,000 newly registered owners this week. The one-month extension was done “out of an abundance of caution,” Feinberg said. GM issued a brief statement saying it agreed with Feinberg’s recommendation to extend the deadline. At least 33 people have died as a result of the faulty ignition switches, according to the New York Times.
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