DC Update: Senate To Move On from Healthcare; FAA Warns Against Lithium Batteries in Cargo Hold

This week has been a busy one, with many actions that could affect the remote-production industry.

On Tuesday, following the failed efforts to pass a healthcare bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the GOP will be “moving on to comprehensive tax reform and to infrastructure.”

Wednesday marked the deadline for airlines to comply with Department of Homeland Security’s directive to phase in new screening technology at more than 280 point-of-departure airports. They now have 120 days to complete the implementation or face a complete electronics ban. All nine of the Middle Eastern airlines that were first subject to the electronics ban, issued in March, have complied with DHS’s new requirements and had the restrictions lifted.

On Thursday, FAA issued a warning to airlines about the risks of storing devices with flammable lithium batteries in cargo holds on passenger planes. The notice cautioned that “devices containing lithium metal or lithium-ion batteries should be transported in carry-on baggage and not placed in checked baggage.” Although no legislative action has yet been taken, this warning may reignite lawmakers’ efforts to ban the batteries on passenger planes.

Thursday marked the 72-day countdown until DOT appropriations run out and FAA reauthorization expires. Highway and transit policy is up for renewal in 1,168 days.

Next week is the House’s last week in session before its traditional August recess, and, according to the schedule released late yesterday, the FAA Reauthorization bill is not on the agenda. Despite efforts to garner support for the bill, it appears that there are not enough votes at this time for it to pass, thanks mostly to Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster’s controversial air-traffic–control provision. This means the bill will most likely be taken up when the House returns in September.

DC Update will continue to follow these issues.