Senator McCaskill Proposes to Punish the Private Sector if the Government Misses a Deadline (AGAIN)

ARSA has made us aware of two potential Senate amendments to Tax legislation.  What makes the amendments worthy of our industry’s notice is that they would directly affect repair stations.

The two amendments are both targeted to the Small Business Tax Relief Act (H.R. 636).  Both of these amendments are being proposed by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and both would adversely affect the FAA’s ability to certify foreign repair stations.

You might be wondering why there are FAA-related amendments being offered to a small business tax bill.  It is because Senator John Thune (R-SD) has already proposed an amendment that would add the FAA Reauthorization language to this bill, as a means of advancing FAA Reauthorization.

The first of the two proposed amendments is McCaskill 3750 and it would prohibit FAA-certification of foreign repair stations in any country that has been named under any of three pieces of legislation for providing support for acts of international terrorism.  This list currently includes Iran, Sudan and Syria.

The second of the two proposed amendments is McCaskill 3751.  It would prohibit the FAA from issuing a certificate to any foreign repair stations if the FAA failed to complete the foreign drug and alcohol testing rule within one year and ensure pre-employment background checks are completed for foreign and domestic repair stations maintaining air carrier aircraft within 180 days.  Unlike other, similar, penalty provisions, there is no exception for renewing existing certificates upon expiration so this could have a serious adverse impact on global aviation commerce, and could undermine FAA credibility on the global aviation safety stage.

This second proposal is a penalty against the private sector that would be levied as a consequence of the FAA’s failure to meet deadlines (deadline that may or may not be unfairly short in the first place).  I do not often opine on legislation, but this is simply bad governance.  Government agencies frequently miss Congressional deadlines and thera re many reasons for this.  Punishing the private sector when government fails to meet a deadline does little to encourage government agency compliance – making industry vocal about an issue does not magically create new resources to allow the FAA to do more than it can do.

This could be especially damaging to ASA members who rely on repair stations to overhaul articles in order to make them airworthy and saleable.

Our sources do not expect these amendments to get serious consideration, but the mere fact that Congress is once again considering punishing industry for events over which industry has no control is disturbing.  It is especially disturbing when you consider the efforts that industry has already invested in risk management and mitigation, and the way that these efforts could be so casually ignored by Congress.

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About Jason Dickstein
Mr. Dickstein is the President of the Washington Aviation Group, a Washington, DC-based aviation law firm. He represents several aviation trade associations, including the Aviation Suppliers Association, the Aircraft Electronics Association, the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association and the Modification and Replacement Parts Association.

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