Amata’s Cabotage Bill Advances
Washington, D.C. – Thursday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata welcomed the advancement of her cabotage bill to promote reliable air service in American Samoa. The provision is part of a renewed push in Congress to complete re-authorization this month for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
On Wednesday, the House passed a revised FAA authorization bill with her air service provision, also known as cabotage, but there are important new factors since the last time her measure passed the House in April. This time, a September 30 deadline on the FAA’s previous authorization necessitates action on the part of Congress, while the updates to the FAA bill are broadly bipartisan, passing with unanimous consent in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Congresswoman Amata with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao
The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, led by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), provides five years of FAA authorization, and includes other features, such as regulating seat size in U.S. passenger jet aircraft on behalf of passengers.
The bill with key revisions has been sent to the Senate for further action. Sen. Orrin Hatch, Chairman on the influential Senate Finance Committee, is already on the record publicly supporting an identical provision to Congresswoman Amata’s legislation on behalf of American Samoa’s local island to island aviation.
“This would be a major legislative success for American Samoa,” said Aumua Amata. “This legislation has broad support in Congress and a deadline, so I’m optimistic our provision could see the finish line shortly. It’s important to do all we can to ensure reliable air service in American Samoa. This change will help hold down costs for our people as they travel between islands.”
Amata’s provision streamlines the requirement of foreign carriers who service the routes between Tutuila and Manu'a to reduce unnecessary paperwork. Currently, the carrier must apply for waivers every 30 days, but the legislation reduces that application requirement to every six months. Congresswoman Amata’s initial legislation was a bipartisan bill, H.R. 276, passed by the House of Representatives in 2017, then adopted into the larger FAA bill. Her plan amends Title 49, United States Code, so that American Samoa can count on air service between islands.