This time it might actually happen. The FAA has not had a funding bill passed since 2012, which means that they have been working under a series of uncertain extensions for a number of years. Congress was unable to agree on a package in 2016, when the house called for privatization of Air Traffic Control; they were again unable to agree in 2017. 2018 might be the year.
With the current extension (of an extension, of an extension, seemingly ad infinitum) set to expire on Sunday, the Senate passed a weeklong extension on Friday. By giving the Senate only one more week – until October 7 – to look at the current bill, Congress seems to be serious about getting FAA Reauthorization done.
The compromise five-year FAA Reauthorization bill, called the Aviation, Transportation Safety, and Disaster Recovery Reforms and Reauthorization (H.R.302) was released September 22. H.R. 302 was passed by the House September 26. They also passed an October 7 extension to give the Senate time to consider the bill.
Consider – within limits. Last evening, after 5:30 pm, the Senate passed a cloture vote on H.R. 302, 90-7. To “invoke cloture” means to limit debate on the bill, in order to prevent filibuster. It’s a measure developed in 1917 to help Congress get past situations that would allow one party to prevent movement on an issue: until the 1970’s it cloture was invoked fewer than 10 times in more than 50 years. After 1970, cloture was never invoked more than 23 times in a single year until 1999-2000, when cloture was invoked 28 times. In 2017-18, cloture has been invoked 141 times thus far.
H.R.302 contains a number of important provisions for the drone industry. With its passage, there will be significant changes for both recreational and commercial operators. While the AMA has asked members to campaign against the bill, manufacturers and other organizations have come out in support of a single set of regulations for all operators.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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