Transportation & Infrastructure Chair DeFazio Secures Key Victories in Omnibus and COVID Relief Legislation
Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) secured key victories in the COVID-19 relief and annual federal budget bill that passed the House of Representatives tonight, including disaster relief funding for states responding to the COVID crisis, legislation to distribute already-collected funds to the country’s ports for maintenance and operations, landmark legislation to improve the FAA’s aircraft certification process in the wake of the Boeing 737 MAX tragedies, an extension of the highly-successful Payroll Support Program for aviation employees, and pipeline safety legislation.
“While I am relieved that Congress finally passed legislation to provide urgently-needed relief for the American people, we still have much more to do,” Chair DeFazio said. “Tragically, political partisanship and gridlock in Washington have delayed relief for families and communities that are hurting right now amid this public health and economic crisis. I’m proud that I was able to work closely with my counterparts in the Senate to ensure this legislation included provisions that will make a tremendous difference for Oregon, including a provision to finally unlock the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and ensure our nation’s ports are properly maintained while protecting millions of jobs. The bill also includes my bipartisan FAA certification legislation that will protect the flying public. There is still much to be done, and I look forward to getting to work with the Biden-Harris administration in the new year.”
As Chair, DeFazio secured a number of key provisions in the legislation, including:
- The Water Resources Development Act of 2020, legislation essential to our country’s ports, harbors, and inland waterways, as well as to ecosystem restoration and flood mitigation; the WRDA Act of 2020 finally unlocks the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, freeing up to billions of dollars of already-collected fees to be used for operations and maintenance of the country’s ports. DeFazio also successfully pushed for a 50 percent increase in funding for small harbors, like the Port of Gold Beach and the Port of Siuslaw, and for a provision that allows harbor maintenance funds to be seamlessly spent on the maintenance of adjacent marinas as well as jetties. This funding will be put to immediate use paying for planned projects such as the Coos Bay North Jetty rehabilitation and maintenance dredging along the coast.
- $2 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, as well as some assistance for individuals and households to cover funeral expenses for COVID-19 deaths.
- $15 billion to extend the Payroll Support Program for aviation employees through March 31, 2021, a workers-first program that puts tens of thousands of workers back on the payroll with benefits, while prohibiting the use of funds for stock buybacks or executive compensation. Requires mandatory recall of involuntarily furloughed workers and backpay for those workers to the date of the bill’s passage.
- $1 billion in payroll pass-through grants for workers for airline contractors, with mandatory recalls of involuntarily furloughed workers and back pay for those workers to the date of the bill’s passage.
- The Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act, bipartisan legislation to strengthen the Federal Aviation Administration’s aircraft certification process in the wake of the Boeing 737 MAX tragedies. DeFazio led an 18-month investigation into the Boeing 737 MAX and developed the legislation from its findings.
- The Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2020, bipartisan legislation to help ensure that the millions of miles of pipelines in the U.S. are safe, reliable, and environmentally-sound; also includes provisions to require leak detection and repair programs to reduce methane pollution, as well as resolve the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s bureaucratic inability to protect coastal waters and the Great Lakes as previously mandated by Congress.