Virginia and Maryland’s Senate Democrats will face intense scrutiny in the coming months as they confront conflicts surrounding the alterations at Reagan National Airport and the choice of the future site for the FBI headquarters.
Lawmakers are currently competing to have the replacement of the J. Edgar Hoover building built in their respective states. However, despite the GOP’s dissatisfaction with the FBI, they all agree that a replacement must be included in the upcoming government spending package.
Congress must pass a spending deal before September 30th to prevent a government shutdown.
A group of four Democratic Senators, including Ben Cardin (Md.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Tim Kaine (Va.), and Mark Warner (Va.), are working to prevent an increase in direct long-distance flights from DCA. This effort is part of the FAA reauthorization bill, which must be passed by September 30th.
Their conflicting approaches place them at the heart of important battles, while the need to pass legislation intensifies as the deadline approaches.
Although the fight with the FBI has been ongoing for months, the issues regarding Reagan National and the impact on other DMV airports emerged in early June in the form of a proposed amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill that allows more flights beyond the 1,250-mile perimeter to fly out of DCA.
Currently, the airport only offers 11 flights to cities beyond the 1,250-mile limit. However, a proposed amendment by Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) would add four more flight slots for long-distance cities. Unfortunately, negotiations about an unrelated provision regarding airline pilot qualifications have caused the Thursday markup on the bill to be canceled.
However, the senators from the DMV region strongly oppose that amendment and are determined to use all possible means to prevent its passing. They expressed their objections in an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Thursday (June 15), emphasizing that Reagan National Airport is already overcrowded and cannot accommodate additional flights without causing more delays and longer lines.