Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said in floor remarks today that a debate over “adding more long-distance flights to and from Reagan Washington National Airport is holding up the entire Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization bill,” The Hill reports.
Reid said he would file cloture on the FAA bill Monday even if senators had not managed to come to an agreement. He also suggested senators should finish backroom dealings and bring all amendments to the floor for a vote.
What’s the holdup?
Federal law allows only 12 long-distance flights (non-stop over 1,250 miles) to and from Reagan each day. The remaining long-distance flights are diverted to Dulles Airport and Baltimore-Washington Airport (BWI), both about 30 miles from the District.
West Coast senators in particular, such as Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), want to add slots at Reagan National to stimulate long-distance travel to and from their states. They say their constituents have a right to easy access to the nation’s capital.
Members of Congress who represent districts including, or near, BWI and Dulles airports, however, fear their districts could suffer if Reagan National is given more long-distance slots.