Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate passed a long-term Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization package (H.R. 302), which includes provisions championed by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) related to disaster recovery and reform, aviation security, and bolstering aerospace advancements in Florida. The bill now heads to the President to be signed into law.
“I was proud to work with my colleagues to secure several important provisions for Florida that will help communities throughout the state, and Puerto Rico, to recover from disasters, enhance aviation security, and modernize the nation’s current aviation and aerospace systems to meet future needs,” Rubio said. “Notably, this package includes an overdue fix that I have long advocated for which limits FEMA’s ability to claw-back funds several years, and sometimes decades, after communities use these needed dollars to recover from devastating natural events. I look forward to the President signing this bill into law to improve FEMA’s deobligation process, giving our cities and counties the much-needed clarity they deserve.”
Rubio-Championed Provisions Included in H.R. 302
Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018
- FEMA Deobligation (Section 1216): Sets a three-year statute of limitation for deobligation from closing of a storm to completion of project. Last year, Rubio introduced similar legislation, the Post-Disaster Fairness to States Act of 2017.
FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018
- Emergency Exemption Process for Disaster Drone Use (Section 353): Rubio sponsored provision requires the FAA Administrator to update guidance and develop best practices for law enforcement and other government operation of unmanned aircraft in response to a catastrophe, disaster or other emergency.
- Use of NASA’s Super Guppy Aircraft for Commercial Transport (Section 541): Rubio sponsored provision enables commercial space companies to use the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA)’s “Super Guppy” Aircraft to provide transport of large launch vehicle and spacecraft components, which is restricted to operation for government purposes only under current law.
- Space Support Vehicles (Section 581): Rubio sponsored provision clarifies the meaning of space support vehicles in order to expand the ability of commercial space companies to train space flight participants and conduct space related research.
- Aviation Security in Cuba (Section 1957): Rubio sponsored provision to implement a portion of the Cuban Airport Security Act, requiring the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to provide Congress with a confidential briefing on airport security measure in Cuba; and carry out recommendations of an August 2018 GAO report on Cuban aviation security by requiring TSA to direct all public charters operating flights between the U.S. and Cuba to provide updated flight schedules; and implements a mechanism that corroborates and validates flight schedule data to more reliably track the public charter operations of air carriers between the U.S. and Cuba.
- International Security Standards (Section 1956): A component of Rubio’s Cuban Airport Security Act, this will require TSA to consult with the International Civil Aviation Organization to submit a report to Congress detailing its pursuit to improve airport safety and security standards across the global aviation system.
- Federal Air Marshal (FAM) Agreements (Section 1959): A component of Rubio’s Cuban Airport Security Act, this provision requires TSA to develop a standard basis for all FAM agreements—required to be in writing—with foreign governments and partners. On September 20, 2016, Rubio demanded answers from the Obama administration about the absence of FAM on flights between the U.S. and Cuba, while commercial flights between the two countries commenced on August 31, 2016.
Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act of 2018 (Section 1401): Establishes a U.S. International Development Finance Corporation to modernize U.S. engagement with the private sector in developing countries. This will ensure that U.S. foreign assistance is more efficient and effective by streamlining our efforts and helping countries build and strengthen their economies. Senator Rubio is a cosponsor of the Build Act of 2018 (S.2463).
Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018 (Section 1601): Requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to evaluate emerging threats that drones may pose and provides the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice with important authorities to protect critical buildings and assets when there is a security risk posed by an unmanned aircraft. Senator Rubio is a cosponsor of Senator Johnson’s stand-alone legislation (S.2836).