Averting a Government Shutdown, and Reinforcing Air Travel Infrastructure, Weather Alert Systems and National Defense Initiatives

Making further continuing appropriations for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2024, and for other purposes (HR 2872) – Passed by both branches and signed by the president on Jan. 18, this is the third temporary resolution designed to avert a government shutdown until Congress can agree on appropriations for fiscal year 2024. The bill extends the government funding deadline to March 1 for four appropriations bills and another eight until March 8.

Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2023, Part II (HR 6503) – This bipartisan bill was introduced on Nov. 29, 2023, by Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO). It extends certain Federal Aviation and Administration (FAA) programs and activities through March 8, namely the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) test site program and the remote detection and identification pilot program, weather reporting programs, the Remote Tower Pilot Program, and the Essential Air Service Program. The bill also extends authorization for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) that provides grants for planning, development, and noise compatibility projects at certain public-use airports and extends the FAA’s authority to collect taxes on aviation fuel and airline tickets to support the Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF). The bill passed in the House on Dec. 11, in the Senate on Dec. 19, and was signed into law by President Biden on Dec. 26.

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024 (HR 2670) – This bill incorporates provisions from a wide range of legislation introduced throughout 2023. It authorizes fiscal year 2024 appropriations and policies for: the Department of Defense (DOD); military construction; national security programs for the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Maritime Administration; the Defense Nuclear Safety Board; and the Naval Petroleum Reserves. Note that this bill does not provide appropriations but merely authorizes funding from an approved budget. The Act was introduced by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) on April 18, 2023. It passed in the House on July 14 and the Senate on July 27. A conference report of the final text was produced and approved by both houses in December, and the Act was signed into law on Dec. 22, 2023.

Testing, Rapid Analysis and Narcotic Quality (TRANQ) Research Act of 2023 (HR 1734) – This bipartisan act was introduced on March 23, 2023, by Rep. Mike Collins (R-GA). It initially passed in the House on May 11, passed in the Senate with changes on June 22, was finalized in the House on Dec. 4, and enacted on Dec. 11. The bill directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to support research and other activities related to psychoactive substances such as fentanyl and a veterinary tranquilizer called Xylazine. Colloquially referred to as the zombie drug, this substance has proliferated in communities throughout the country and places law enforcement officers at great personal risk during confiscation.

A bill to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to extend the Administrative Fine Program for certain reporting violations (S 2747) – This bill extends authorization to the Federal Election Commission Administration Fine Program to enforce penalties for late and/or non-filed campaign finance disclosure reports. The legislation was introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on Sept. 7, 2023, and passed in the Senate on the same day. It passed in the House on Dec. 11 and was signed into law on Dec. 19, 2023.

NWR Modernization Act of 2023 (S 1416) – This bipartisan bill instructs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to update the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) network of radio stations that broadcast 24-7 weather information, including weather warnings, watches, and forecasts. It has become imperative to beef up the coverage and reliability of radio stations – particularly in rural and underserved communities – via repairs, software upgrades, additional equipment, and alternative means of transmissions, as well as other potential improvements. The Act was introduced on May 23, 2023, by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D- WA). It passed in the Senate on Dec.18 and currently lies in the House.

National Weather Service Communications Improvement Act (S 1414) – This bill is designed to update the current in-house instant messaging service (NWSChat) that has been in use since 2008 by NWS forecasters. In the wake of increased severe weather events, wildfires, and climate-related emergencies across the country, it is necessary to use more reliable, updated state-of-the-art communications and real-time alerts in order for local communities to keep families, homes, and businesses safe and secure. This Act would require the NWS to adopt a new instant messaging service by October 2027. The bill, also introduced by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) on May 3, 2023, passed in the Senate on Dec. 18, 2023. Note that there is a similar bill in the Senate sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) as well as a bipartisan version in the House.


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