House Republicans continue to elect chairmen of that chamber’s committees of special interest to readers of CAT and MS&T: Transportation and Infrastructure and Armed Services.
Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri) was selected to serve as Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The committee’s jurisdiction includes all modes of transportation, including the US aviation system and FAA. The congressional veteran is also a member of the Congressional General Aviation Caucus.
Graves has had a record of supporting very focused, specific legislation to enhance commercial aviation. In one case last September, Graves co-sponsored a bill to allow Airport Improvement Program funds to be used to incentivize the early completion of critical runway and airport projects.
Graves has been a proponent of the broader commercial aviation industry as well. At a House hearing on the State of General Aviation in the US, the congressman noted that, from his vantage point, “the general aviation fleet is comprised of business jets, fixed-wing piston engine aircraft, rotorcraft, lighter-than-air, and light sport aircraft. That’s a diverse set of aircraft, each with its own varying levels of pilot training and certification.” More telling, he then declared, “Congress has a vested interest in making certain that general aviation remains robust and healthy. From ensuring student pilots make the leap to private pilot, to educating grade-school students about well-paying careers in aviation, to ensuring airspace access in rural communities, to improving aviation safety, we must ensure that the general aviation community has the tools and resources that it needs to flourish for decades to come.”
Rogers for HASC
Representative Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) was named Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. The HASC has oversight over the entire US defense portfolio. While focused on and attentive to disparate matters ranging from service member pay and benefits to the development of hypersonic and other next-generation aircraft, the congressman has been on record to call attention to training readiness and technology enablers of increasing importance to military training enterprises.
Rogers has been on record calling for the Pentagon to divest over $6 billion in legacy systems that do little to deter China and other adversaries and “reinvest those savings in emerging technologies, such as AI, quantum computing, hypersonic weapons, and autonomous systems.”
Similarly, the Alabama House member went on record last summer “applauding the House passage of H.R. 7900, the National Defense Authorization Act tor Fiscal Year 2023, that in part, “Fully funds military exercises with our allies and partners in the Pacific to counter China’s growing reach.”
Congressional Session is Underway
While inclined to follow the Republican party’s overarching legislative agenda, Graves and Rogers have also given indications they are impartial and unbiased on topics of interest to S&T stakeholders in the commercial aviation and adjacent defense sector. The first test of their commitment to advancing the two sectors for the “common good” and broad welfare of the US will occur when they have the opportunity to comment on and hold hearings for the Biden Administration’s fiscal year 2024 defense and FAA bills to be delivered to Congress this February.