Chairman Cole Hearing Remarks on FAA Reauthorization and Schools Not Shelters Act

As prepared for delivery:

Good afternoon. Today’s hearing covers two items that are of vital importance to the American people.

I will first discuss H.R. 3935, the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act. This bill reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, and federal aviation programs for five years. The FAA was last reauthorized in 2018, and that statute expires at the end of September. It is imperative that Congress acts.

Since 1903, when the Wright Brothers first took to the skies at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the United States has been the world leader in aviation safety and innovation. In order to maintain that position, we need a vibrant, modern, efficient, and innovative FAA.  Our aviation industry faces many challenges, ranging from increasing global competition—and a shortage of trained aviation professionals—to rapid changes in technology. We must make certain that the FAA has the tools and flexibility it needs to meet these needs.

In advancing H.R. 3935, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure delivered policy bringing long-term certainty to the many facets of our nation’s aviation system. Chairman Sam Graves and Ranking Member Rick Larsen produced a bill that passed out of the committee unanimously, and it is easy to see why. The bill takes clear steps to modernize the FAA and ensure it can meet the demands of the 21st century. It encourages innovation and research in aviation, provides new protections and enhanced flying experiences for passengers, and supports a strong aviation workforce.

The FAA bill is of particular importance to my congressional district. In addition to having critical airports in municipalities like Lawton, Norman, Ardmore, and Oklahoma City, central Oklahoma is also home to the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center. The Monroney Center is not only a key administrative, research, and safety hub for the FAA, but it is also home to the FAA Academy, the only training center in the country for FAA-certified air traffic controllers. It is no exaggeration to say that our national aviation industry cannot exist without a well-trained and stable air traffic control workforce, and that workforce would not exist without the Monroney Center. Indeed, it is a point of pride for Oklahomans that we contribute to the nation in this way. My office works hard to support the essential services the Monroney Center provides America. 

Collectively, this legislation is a centerpiece of the infrastructure that connects Americans, visitors, and our economy. It’s a solid bill, and I am pleased we are reviewing it today.

Our second measure is H.R. 3941, the Schools Not Shelters Act. In May, New York City contemplated an unthinkable action. They planned on using public elementary and secondary schools to house migrants seeking asylum. This misguided proposal hijacked the core education mission of public schools.

What’s worse, it is the ongoing refusal of the Biden Administration to secure the southern border that led to this absurd scheme. The Biden Administration’s failure to maintain operational control of the border, its failure to continue to build barriers and to adequately police the border, and its failure to enforce immigration law has created a full-blown national security and humanitarian crisis. Well over a million people have crossed the southern border illegally this year, and there is no end to this chaos in sight.

The recklessness and incompetence of this White House is no excuse for cities like New York to house migrants in public school facilities. Our nation’s children deserve better. H.R. 3941 will make sure that no educational dollars go to any state or city that allows our kids to shoulder the burden of turning our schools into shelters. This is a straightforward and commonsense measure that should be non-controversial. Public elementary and secondary schools are to be used to educate America’s next generation – period. Any state or city that tries to do otherwise should not receive Federal educational funding, and H.R. 3941 will make sure that they do not.


Jul 17, 2023