Many Americans are rightly concerned about airport security after the tragic terrorist attacks at an airport in Brussels, Belgium that killed dozens of innocent civilians, including a young woman from Kentucky and her husband, and wounded more than 200 others. The Kentuckians I meet want to know what their government is doing to improve safety and security—including at airports—in light of horrific attacks like these.
The safety of every American who flies is a top priority for the new Republican Senate. That’s why, under my leadership, the Senate recently passed the bipartisan Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act, which includes important aviation security reforms to make flying safer and new consumer protections to make flying more passenger friendly.
When enacted, the bill would improve the vetting and inspection of airport employees in an effort to prevent dangerous people from gaining access to secure areas. It would expand enrollment in the TSA PreCheck program, to move passengers through security checkpoint lines more quickly. It would require stronger security assessments in pre-screening areas, which could be vulnerable to terror attacks. And it would strengthen security measures for international flights that originate elsewhere but are bound for America.
The bill would improve the customer experience for those who fly as well. For instance, if airlines charge fees for things like baggage, seat assignments, changes, or cancellations, airlines would have to provide this information in clear, simple English that people can understand. This would make it easier for passengers to compare fees across airlines.
The bill would allow passengers to get refunds for purchases made but not received—like if they pay a checked baggage fee, but the bag doesn’t make it to their destination.
The bill would give passengers more peace of mind by directing the FAA to update the contents of onboard emergency medical kits.
And it would improve the FAA’s transition to up-to-date air traffic control technologies, to address growing cybersecurity threats that challenge our nation’s aviation and air navigation control systems.
These provisions are why one columnist for the Washington Post called this bill “one of the most passenger-friendly Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bills in a generation.”
The bill would also improve communication between the FAA and local airports to give local airports more of a say in the management of their airspace. That’s good for local communities and airports across the country, and I am glad to have worked with the Louisville airport to see that this important provision was included in the bill.
Finally, this bill would promote rural access to American airspace, an important consideration for smaller communities here in Kentucky.
I’ve told you many things this bipartisan legislation would do, if we’re fortunate enough to pass it through the House of Representatives and the president were to sign it. Here’s what it would not do: raise taxes or fees on any air passengers, or impose new heavy-handed regulations on airlines that could affect the many flight options available to air travelers.
I’m proud that the Senate has passed the most comprehensive set of aviation security reforms in years. And I’m pleased the bill earned wide bipartisan support.
Passing the FAA Reauthorization Act is just the latest example of how the new Republican Senate has rejected the gridlock and dysfunction of days past, under the previous majority, and is working on behalf of the American people. From aviation security concerns to common-sense reforms intended to make flying a better experience for passengers, we’re listening to you and acting on your concerns.
Kentuckians should rest assured that as their senator, I’ll always go to work in Washington with their best interests at heart. My job is to deliver for the Bluegrass State. Making air travel safer, more secure, and simpler is just one more way to do that.
Mitch McConnell is a U.S. Senator representing Kentucky and the Senate Majority Leader.