The House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to approve the FAA reauthorization bill, but an amendment to add flights at Reagan National Airport was defeated.
The vote for the five-year reauthorization of the FAA was 351-69, sending the legislation on to the Senate. The FAA reauthorization legislation includes a wide range of measures aimed at improving air safety, airport infrastructure and customer service.
The amendment that would have added seven round-trip flights at Reagan National Airport had bipartisan support and was sponsored by Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah.
It was defeated Wednesday night on a vote of 205-229, as the House considered a series of amendments to the FAA legislation.
Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., who strongly opposed the amendment, took issue with those who characterized it as a compromise.
At one point, as many as 28 additional round-trip flights had been proposed.
But Beyer said supporters of the latest amendment never reached out to Washington-area lawmakers.
“Twenty percent of the flights are already more than an hour late and this will only make it worse,” Beyer said, arguing against the expansion of flights.
He also rejected arguments from supporters, who said adding flights could help lower airline ticket prices. He noted that prices didn’t drop the last time flights were added at Reagan National Airport and actually went up.
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton echoed Beyer’s arguments on the House floor and also suggested that lawmakers who backed it only wanted it for their own convenient access to more direct flights.
But Owens and the amendment’s supporters said it wasn’t about them — they pointed out that many of their constituents need to fly to Washington for work and business meetings.
While it’s still possible the Senate could consider adding flights at Reagan National, Virginia and Maryland senators have vowed to battle any renewed effort.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., tweeted on Thursday that he was glad to see the House defeated what he called “chaotic changes to slot rules” at the airport.
“I’ll continue fighting these changes — which would exacerbate delays and ruin folks’ travel plans,” he said.
The FAA bill also includes measures related to helicopter noise in the D.C. region, including requiring the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on reducing helicopter noise.