Mark Includes Safety Reforms in FAA Reauthorization

April 30, 2018
DeSaulnier Digest

Dear Contra Costa County Residents:

Last week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4, a bill that reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for five years, continues investments in airports, and makes necessary safety reforms, by a vote of 393-to-13. As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I fought for and included several critical safety measures to help prevent runway accidents. The U.S. has seen an alarming 83 percent increase in runway incursions between 2011 and 2017 as well as a series of near misses.

The occurrence of close calls and runway incursions, including three incidents at SFO, prompted me to work over the last nine months with multiple stakeholders, experts, and the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to gather information and develop recommendations on how to prevent accidents.

As a frequent flyer, I am proud that we have an exceptional aviation safety record, but we must stay vigilant and proactive in addressing safety concerns. Recent high-profile near-miss incidents across the country—including in our backyard at SFO—have brought new safety concerns to light. I am pleased that my amendments to update critical safety practices were included in the final FAA bill. This is a good first start, and I am working on legislation to further enhance safety. Rather than wait for a catastrophic accident, we must learn as much as possible from safety incidents and take action to protect the flying public.

My amendments included in H.R. 4 would improve the use of technology and data to support the work of pilots, air traffic controllers, and FAA safety inspectors to ensure safe airport landings through:

  • Better Alerts to Air Traffic Controllers: Requiring the FAA to review ways to expand and improve the use of technology that can alert air traffic controllers when an airplane is improperly aligned before landing. Following the July 7th Air Canada incident, SFO's air traffic control made changes to its use of this equipment, and this change should be explored at other airports as well.
  • Audible Notifications to Pilots: Assessing the benefits of equipping all aircraft with systems that provide an audible alert to pilots, notifying them of their alignments as they are nearing a runway.
  • Reducing Risks Associated with Power Outages: Protecting key systems, such as communication, navigation, and surveillance systems, from disruption caused by a power outage or other similar unforeseen circumstances. The December 29, 2017 the Horizon Air taxiway landing at Pullman-Moscow airport was likely compounded by a power outage that caused the runway lights to fail, and the status of runway lights at SFO on the night of July 7 may have added to the confusion of the Air Canada pilots
  • Improving Data Analysis for Safety: Improving the use of data for identifying safety issues and recommending action before accidents occur

In addition to the above safety measures, I also successfully included an effort in the bill to improve ground transportation:

  • Make Travel to and around Airports More Efficient: Requires a study of ground transportation options, including the impact of ride hailing services, at our nation's 10 busiest airports to help make travel easier and more efficient for passengers.

MARK AROUND TOWN

Recognizing Civil Rights Leaders
The East County NAACP is a strong partner in our fight for the elimination of injustice and inequality in Contra Costa County and throughout the country. I joined them in honoring civil rights legend William Lucy and their Scholarship and Image Award winners for their educational, religious, and humanitarian contributions to the community.

Honoring Fallen Heroes
Contra Costa residents came together in Lafayette at the unveiling of a new monument to honor the 23 fallen heroes who have lost their lives in defense of our country since 9/11. We can never fully repay the debt owed to those who have laid down their lives for our country, but we can honor their courage by upholding our duty to support our veterans, service members, and military families.  


OPINIONS FROM THE DISTRICT  

Hearing directly from you not only informs my work in Congress, but also is my favorite part of being your Representative. To share your opinions with me you can either email me or take our survey.

Below are some of the top issues you shared with me over the last week:

  • 204 constituents wrote in to express concern over the negative impact on consumers of a proposed merger between agricultural companies, which will undoubtedly create a monopoly.
  • 177 constituents wrote to me in opposition to federal testing on animals.
  • 148 constituents continue the call for the removal of Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator due to his unethical, pro-corporation behavior.

LEGISLATION MARK RECENTLY SUPPORTED

Women's Equality Workforce Oversight (WE Work) Act (H.R. 5565) - increases oversight and accountability of federal agencies that are supposed to help protect women in the workforce

Cancer Drug Parity Act (H.R. 1409) - requires health insurers to make sure that pills to treat cancer are not more expensive than other cancer treatment options


LETTERS MARK RECENTLY SENT

Bipartisan letter to Speaker Paul Ryan and Leader Nancy Pelosi urging that they ensure none of upcoming spending bills negatively impact efforts to reduce gun violence.

Letter to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy requesting he issue a subpoena for documents related to the citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

Letter to the Senate expressing opposition to a new authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) that would allow all current military operations to continue with no new constraints and no end date.

Letter to EPA Administrator Pruitt opposing the Administration's decision to weaken a policy that requires polluters to use technology to permanently reduce their emissions, which has resulted in an estimated reduction of 1.7 million tons of toxic air pollutants.

Letter to Speaker Ryan requesting further information on the Speaker's unjustified, political decision to remove the House chaplain from his position prior to his term's expiration.

Letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging the Israeli government not to demolish the Palestinian village of Susya, and other similarly situated Palestinian communities in the West Bank.


MARK IN THE NEWS:  

Protecting the Public Health and Clean Air
Following the announcement by the Trump Administration that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to undermine Obama Administration standards on fuel efficiency to address global warming, Mark recommended a national boycott of any vehicle company that fails to meet current EPA or California standards.

This past week, Mark led 10 Democratic Members of the California Delegation in continuing to urge CalPERS, the country's largest public retirement fund, to consider divesting if automobile companies put public health and our planet at risk. 

Calpers Urged to Divest From Automakers That Relax Fuel Standards