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(From the Congressional Record-House, Sept. 26, 1968)
THE FAA SCHEMES AGAIN
Mr. FRIEDEL. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to address the House for 1 minute.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Maryland?
There was no objection.
Mr. FRIEDEL. Mr. Speaker, I have just received a copy of a “Master Plan Report- Washington National Airport." I understand that this has been under preparation since 1965 pursuant to a contract between the Federal Aviation Administration and Vincent G. Kling & Associates. I am advised that the contract cost the taxpayers of this country $300,000. This is outrageous.
Early in the 90th Congress I introduced H.R. 2798, which would prohibit the Federal Aviation Administration from improving or expanding any airport owned and operated by the Federal Government if the cost of improvement or expansion would exceed $50,000. Anything over that would have to have specific authorization by Congress. This Kling report underscores the need for such legislation, for in the report there are four schemes proposed with total costs as follows: Scheme F-1.
$192, 440, 479 Scheme F-2.
193, 622, 525 Scheme F-3.
136, 988, 139 Scheme F-4.
163, 024, 588 Some scheming.
Across the Nation there are many places where airpori improvements are urgently needed. It is a crying shame that the one place which does not need to be expanded should be chosen for dumping $300,000 down the drain.
Incidentally, for some reason, the report is encased in a book which measures 18 inches by 13/2 inches. This is a little awkward for Congressmen to carry around in their side pocket, so I do not have it with me. I am not sure my file cabinets are large enough to accommodate it and it costs so much I just hate to throw it away. If any of you want to see it, I will keep it in the office at least for awhile. I have the feeling the Mr. Thomas, the Acting Administrator, will be glad to give away all of his copies if you want to get one from him.
A number of us have been telling the FAA formally and informally for years that the overuse of Washington National is ridiculous in the face of the underuse of Dulles which has over $200 million invested in it, and the underuse of Friendship International, so conveniently located between Baltimore and Washington.
I do not know what more we must do to get this message across but I am perfectly willing to keep at it until it gets across.
I think that Congress is entitled to an immediate and complete explanation as to just how the FAA decided to spend $300,000 for this purpose. I question their right to do this. If they have such discretionary right, it should be removed.
I would have thought that their judgment would have led them away from such an adventure. I regret that it did not. I will exert my efforts to have them up just as soon as possible to determine what additional restrictions we should put on their authorizations. Among these I would hope would be the one set forth in H.R. 2798.
(The text of H.R. 2668, and reports thereon, follow :)
[H.R. 2668, 91st Cong., first sess., introduced by Mr. Friedel on January 9, 1969]
A BILL To provide that the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency shall not undertake certain
projects to improve or expand Federal airports without specific authorization for such projects Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That, notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency shall not undertake any project to improve or expand any airport owned and operated by the Federal Government and under his control, if the total cost of such project will exceed $50,000, unless such project has been specifically authorized by an Act of Congress enacted after the date of enactment of this Act. This Act shall not apply with respect to any project for which funds for construction have been appropriated before the date of enactment of this Act.
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT,
BUREAU OF THE BUDGET,
Washington, D.C., March 4, 1969. Hon. HARLEY O. STAGGERS, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This is in reply to your request for the views of the Bureau of the Budget on H.R. 2668, “To provide that the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency shall not undertake certain projects to improve or expand Federal airports without specific authorization for such projects.'
The bill would prohibit the Administrator from undertaking any project, which would exceed $50,000, to improve or modernize any Federal airport unless the project is specifically authorized by an Act of Congress.
The Department of Transportation opposes this bill on the grounds that a requirement for specific authorization for such projects might inhibit prompt response on projects essential to safe and efficient operation of the airports, and that the appropriation process provides for Congressional review and approval of Federal Aviation Agency expenditures at federally owned and operated airports.
The Bureau of the Budget concurs in the views of the Department of Transportation and accordingly recommends against enactment of the bill. Sincerely yours,
WILFRED H. ROMMEL, Assistant Director for Legislative Reference.
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE,
Washington, D.C., March 4, 1969.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This is in further reply to your request for the views of this Department concerning H.R. 2668, a bill to provide that the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency shall not undertake certain projects to improve or expand Federal airports without specific authorization for such projects.
We have reviewed the provisions of H.R. 2668, and we defer to the views of the Department of Transportation which has jurisdiction over the Federal Aviation Agency as to the desirability of its enactment.
We have been advised by the Bureau of the Budget that there would be no objection to the submission of our report to the Congress from the standpoint of the Administration's program. Sincerely,
General Counsel. Mr. FRIEDEL. I have an additional statement that I would like to include in the record at this point.
(The statement referred to follows:)
STATEMENT OF Hon. SAMUEL N. FRIEDEL, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS
FROM THE STATE OF MARYLAND On January 9, 1969, I introduced H.R. 2668, a bill to provide that the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency shall not undertake certain projects to improve or expand Federal airports without specific authorization for such projects. The bill would prohibit the FAA Administrator from undertaking any project, costing more than $50,000, to improve or expand a Federally-owned and operated airport unless that project is specifically authorized by an Act of Congress passed after the date of enactment of the proposed bill.
Past experience has shown that the Federal Aviation Agency has repeatedly by-passed the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce in utter disregard of the Rules of the House of Representatives, and requested funds for certain projects from the Appropriations Committees of the House and Senate. This is clearly wrong, for Rule XI specifies the Powers and Duties of Committees:
“All proposed legislation and other matters relating to the subject listed under the standing Committees named below shall be referred to such Committees respectively;" and paragraph two of that Rule clearly states:
“Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce:
(a) Interstate and Foreign Commerce generally.
(b) Civil Aeronautics." Thus, all matters dealing with Civil Aeronautics must be brought before the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee.
The point has been made that this bill is not practical because of the possibility that emergencies may arise requiring the FAA to spend more than $50,000 for a particular project. Such possible objection is not valid because the FAA does have à contingent fund or general fund from which it can draw; It can even reprogram its resources for special needs as they may arise. Additionally, experience has shown that such emergencies are relatively few in number.
Attempting to deprive this Committee of its assigned jurisdiction over civil aeronautics matters can result in a wanton waste of taxpayers money.
The Federal Aviation Administration is guilty of needlessly wasting $300,000 of the taxpayer's money. That is the sum spent on a contract between that agency and Vincent G. Kling & Associates for plans to enlarge and further expand the facilities of Washington National Airport which has for some time been dangerously overcrowded. In an unwieldy and oversize report, 4 schemes are proposed costing (F-1) $192,440,479; (F-2) $193,622,525; (F-3) $136,988,139; and (F-4) $163,024,588 respectively.
A more outrageous waste of money cannot be imagined, not only for the sums spent in preparation of such an unneeded study, but also the proposals to further pay not less than $136 million and up to more than $192 million to enlarge a presently overcongested air facility and thereby further increase hazards and noise as well as air pollution over the Nation's Capital.
With the use of jet aircraft, the voice of protest rose up and down the Potomac Valley from Alexandria to McLean. It is conceded by everyone that the present number of flights in and out of Washington National Airport are far too many and with the transition from propeller planes to prop-jets and pure jets, danger and noise to the surrounding population are greatly increased-to further expand and enlarge that airport's facilities just does not make any sense.
It should be noted that this costly study of National Airport was not a part of any formal program of the F.A.A. except the most general statements made to the two Appropriations Committees. And, here again, our Committee was not consulted, neither was it advised of such action by that Agency.
Any plans to "study, expand or construct” additions to Washington National and Dulles International Airport should first be approved by this Committee and no funds should be provided by the Appropriations Committee without such specific authorization. Dulles Airport is not being used at any where near its full capacity and neither is Friendship International Airport; but the F.A.A. requested funds from the Appropriations Committee last year to expand Dulles Airport. I have already urged the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee not to approve funds for such projects in the future.
I submit that unless we amend the Federal Aviation Act as provided in this bill, the F.A.A. is practically in the position of supervising itself. It is, therefore, strongly urged and recommended that in the public interest, in the interest of safety in the air and on the ground, and economy in Government, that this Committee take favorable action on IÍ.R. 2668.
Mr. FRIEDEL. I look forward with interest to the testimony of the Federal Aviation Administration at this time and welcome as our first witness Mr. Arven Saunders, Director of the Bureau of National Capital Airports, Federal Aviation Administration.
STATEMENT OF ARVEN H. SAUNDERS, DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF
NATIONAL CAPITAL AIRPORTS, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINIS-
Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee, my name is Arven H. Saunders. I am Director of the Bureau of National Capital Airports of the Federal Aviation Administration.
I appreciate this opportunity to appear before you today to discuss H.R. 2668, a bill to provide that the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency shall not undertake certain projects to improve or expand Federal airports without specific authorization for such projects. This bill would prohibit the FAA Administrator from undertaking any project, costing more than $50,000, to improve or expand a federally owned and operated airport unless that project is specifically authorized by an act of Congress passed after the date of enactment of the proposed bill. We oppose this bill.
The bill would apply to several federally owned and operated airports under FAA control. In addition to Washington National Airport and Dulles International Airport, these include the airport at Atlantic City, N.J., where the National Aviation Facilities Experimental Center is located, and the airports at Annette Island, Alaska, at six other locations in Alaska, and at Wake Island. In carrying out his responsibilities to operate, maintain and protect these airports, the Administrator must undertake projects to improve or expand them. These projects are essential to the safe and efficient operation of the airports. In many instances, they also represent an investment which will yield significant economic benefits. Normally, we obtain congressional approval to undertake such projects through the appropriation process. Occasionally, we cannot anticipate the needs of our dynamic and fast-growing aviation business, and the public we serve, far enough in advance to seek congressional approval.
When our funds are received from Congress, we may find that the priorities which existed when we requested the funds almost 2 years earlier no longer prevail. To provide adequate public service, we must reprogram funds to meet more urgent needs that are within the intent and purpose of our appropriation. We try to keep such occasions to a minimum. But, we need only look at the rapid evolution in aircraft in recent years to appreciate that these occasions will arise in the aviation industry, and that we must respond quickly.
More often, we are faced with unforeseeable and unplanned conditions. Often these may be emergencies that involve public safety and that must be corrected immediately. Not too long ago, we grooved a runway at Washington National Airport to eliminate a serious hydroplaning problem. There are many other examples: An element of the aged physical and mechanical plant may fail. An aircraft or ground service vehicle may unexpectedly damage a fuel system, or some other essential facility. A sharp increase in cargo shipped may demonstrate the inadequacy of cargo handling facilities. The closing of a general aviation airport may generate increased demands for facilities to take care of the flying public. Increased airplane passenger capacity may make necessary expanded or improved baggage handling facilities. We may detect a previously unknown safety hazard that demands a quick response.
As many as 45 to 48 months may elapse between the conception of an airport improvement and its final completion for some types of projects. No business connected with aviation should take this long to respond to customer demands. To my knowledge no other major airport in the country faces such delays, and they limit our ability to carry out the congressional mandate to operate our airports on a businesslike basis.
Enactment of this bill would increase the existing limitations on our ability to operate the two National Capital airports, and our other airports, on a businesslike and safe basis. When we find it necessary to restructure our projects or to reprogram funds of any magnitude, we customarily advise the Bureau of the Budget and the Appropriations Committees of our need and the projects deferred or canceled. This bill would require us to seek an act of Congress authorizing that action, each time we need to reprogram funds. While seeking this authorization, public service might deteriorate and necessary safety measures might be delayed. When Congress was not in session, our needs might become critical.
We do not believe that it is in the public interest to encumber the administration of federally operated airports with the requirement proposed in this bill. The National Capital airports are expected to be operated on a commercial basis. We feel that the public, and the airlines, the concessionaires, and the tenants who serve the public, foot the bill for our facilities. We believe that they have a right to expect, and should receive, a reasonable response to their needs for the improvement or expansion of our facilities.
We believe that the appropriation process, including the passage of an Appropriation Act, provides full and adequate means for congressional review and approval of FAA expenditures at the federally owned and operated airports.
That concludes my prepared statement, Mr. Chairman. I will be happy to try to answer any questions that the committee have.
Mr. FRIEDEL. Mr. Saunders, there may be emergencies involving funds, and I can understand that this may come up and there could be an amendment to the bill to take care of emergencies. I notice you say here as many as 45 or 48 months may elapse between conception of an airport improvement and the actual improvement at the airport. What is your method now; do you go through committee each year?
Mr. SAUNDERS. Yes, sir.
Mr. FRIEDEL. You do not plan 48 months in advance or 2 or 3 months in advance. You go each year to the Appropriations Committee?
Mr. SAUNDERS. Yes, sir. But, Mr. Chairman, the leadtime is longer than that. We recently prepared a construction cycle chart and presented it to the airlines and to others we deal with at the airports. We meant to emphasize the need for good planning, and for good facts as to what the future schedules and the future needs will be. Planning does involve this kind of timelag.
For example, at the present time we are in the standard Federal budget cycle. We have just finished the 5-year plan. That is part of the Federal cycle. We will have the fiscal year 1971 budget review this summer, and through the fall with Bureau of the Budget. Finally next January, the President will submit the fiscal year 1971 budget proposal to Congress.
Mr. FRIEDEL. Yes, but this bill would not interfere with your going ahead before the Bureau of the Budget. My bill would not interfere with that whatsoever.
Mr. SAUNDERS. Yes, sir. I understand that, Mr. Chairman. But nonetheless, the planning that is involved in our requests takes this long, and it is not always possible for us to anticipate urgent needs.