Attempted To Bring Legislation To Senate Floor, Blocked By Rockefeller, Hutchinson
Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe (R) first introduced his Pilot's Bill of Rights, which would limit the authority of the FAA in some proceedings it takes against pilots, in 2011. He wrote the legislation to address what he says is the ability of the agency to pull a pilot's airman privileges "on a whim." The bill would give pilots access to evidence used by the FAA to revoke pilot certificates, and provide an appeals process should their certificates be lifted.
On Thursday, Senator Inhofe (pictured) asked for unanimous consent from the Senate to consider the bill. While he admitted in a floor speech that for many in the Senate, or watching on C-SPAN2, the legislation might have little meaning. "But it means a lot to the 400,000 members of the AOPA, who are watching us right now, and to the 175,000 general aviation pilots with the EAA — Experimental Aircraft Association — that they know that with the whim of just one bureaucrat they could just lose their license."
The Hill reports that the move was blocked by Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), respective the chair and ranking minority member of the Senate Commerce Committee which has jurisdiction over the FAA. Rockefeller said he based his objection on public safety considerations. "This bill would create a process, which would be new, that could result in the federal government [not] being able to pursue enforcement actions because of limited resources," Rockefeller said on the Senate floor. "This bill would stand the FAA's enforcement structure on its head, and as a result I object."