Piper Hudspeth Blackburn and Sam Fossum CNN
Biden Signs Bipartisan FAA Bill into Law
May 17, 2024
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  • President Joe Biden on Thursday signed a bipartisan Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, enacting a law that aims to improve aviation safety and strengthen protections for passengers and airline workers.

    The legislation, which passed the House on Wednesday and the Senate last week, renews authority for the agency for the next five years and invests in air travel infrastructure nationwide.

    In a statement after he signed the legislation, Biden touted the law and highlighted a new Department of Transportation rule requiring automatic cash refunds instead of vouchers.

    “The bipartisan Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization is a big win for travelers, the aviation workforce, and our economy,” he said. “It also builds on my Administration’s efforts to improve the travel experience for airline passengers, affirming the Department of Transportation’s rule that mandated automatic refunds when flights are cancelled or significantly delayed.”

    The Biden administration first proposed its change to refund rules in 2022 after a surge in complaints about refunds when the Covid-19 pandemic halted air travel.Under the new law, if a passenger declines an airline’s rebooking request or does not respond to the request, the airline must issue an automatic refund.

    Among other things, the law requires the FAA to hire and train as many air traffic controllers as possible to close a gap of 3,000 vacancies. It also requires the agency to install additional runway technology at medium and large hub airports, a move that aims to reduce collisions and near-collisions on runways.

    The law also authorizes more than $105 billion in funding for the FAA as well as $738 million for the National Transportation Safety Board for fiscal years 2024 through 2028.

    Biden signed a one-week extension for federal aviation programs last week. The move allowed the programs to continue while the House took up the reauthorization bill.