Flight fight — will Congress allow expansion at Reagan National?

For all the latest developments in Congress, follow WTOP Capitol Hill correspondent Mitchell Miller at Today on the Hill.

Members of the Virginia and Maryland congressional delegations are vowing to fight a new effort to expand the number of flights in and out of Reagan National Airport.

The Senate Commerce Committee has decided to allow an additional five slots at the airport for long-distance flights.

U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia and U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said they are “deeply disappointed” in the decision, which they said threatened to “overburden” the airport.

“National is already crammed to the brim,” Warner said in a call with reporters. “Adding five more coming-and-going flights to National puts it on a real strained basis, and I think will affect safety.”

The lawmakers said Reagan National Airport’s main runway is already the busiest in the country. They argued adding flights would only create the possibility of more delays.

The Senate is currently considering the FAA authorization bill, which needs to be renewed.

When the House was considering the bill last year, local lawmakers were successful in preventing a separate effort to add slots at the airport.

An amendment that would have added seven round-trip flights at the airport was rejected.

Members of Congress from other parts of the country, who often use Reagan National, have repeatedly tried to add more flights at the airport.

Capital Access Alliance, which includes transportation and business leaders in Virginia, supports the Senate Commerce Committee’s latest decision.

“These new flights will give travelers more choices when they fly and help lower costly airfare,” the organization said in a statement.

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Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller has worked at WTOP since 1996, as a producer, editor, reporter and Senior News Director. After working "behind the scenes," coordinating coverage and reporter coverage for years, Mitchell moved back to his first love -- reporting. He is now WTOP's Capitol Hill reporter.

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