WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congress is now on its summer recess. Members will reconvene Sept. 8 for a session of just two weeks and two days. Once it adjourns Sept. 23, the Congress won’t meet again until after the November election.
This is a short time for a quarreling legislative body to accomplish much of what it was not able to in the previous months and years. However, to some, a short schedule is a good thing.
The Texas legislature, for instance, is limited to 140 days every two years. With legislative days cut to a minimum, elected officials must concentrate on main subjects, giving them little time for frivolous issues or enactment of unnecessary legislation.
Unlimited time for legislators to meet also has a connection to state debt. According to Steve Wilson, the Mississippi Watchdog, states with no limits on legislative sessions, or those that stretch sessions for more than 150 days, are among the top 10 states in per-capita debt.
When Congress convenes for those two weeks in September it will have a number of issues to consider, but none directly affecting general aviation are expected be included.
It must pass and send to the President some kind of a spending bill to keep the government going and not repeat the shutdown like the one that occurred in 2013. Reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank is up. Also there are many nominations to positions which should be considered. These, however, may — and probably will be — deferred.
In this short session, it is expected that much less emphasis will be on the bills themselves than on fodder for the upcoming election and the desire of the Republican Party to maintain control of the House of Representatives and of the Democrats to keep control of the Senate.
It is doubtful that anything meaningful will occur in the coming months. The period between now and after the election is like treading water.
But that doesn’t mean GA’s advocates in Washington can take a break. They need to keep in contact with Congressional staffers and be primed for action when activity resumes.
The one subject pending now is replacing the third class medical with acceptance of a driver’s license. Even this is moving at a snail’s pace. The issue has gone from the FAA to the Department of Transportation, and to the Office of Management and Budget. The General Accountability Office has already said the plan has many flaws. After going through these agencies, it will be returned to the FAA, where it will then be put out for public comment.
Barring any emergencies, no issues directly affecting general aviation are expected to be on the table until after the first of next year. That time will see several issues to keep general aviation activists busy.
Reauthorization will be up for discussion. The outcome of the election will have a direct bearing on what will be talked about and debated. The federal budget and GA’s place in it will be a major topic for the year.
General aviation interests will have a full plate of issues to work on after the uncertainty of an election is ended.