Will Senate Republicans stand with Mike Lee or Obama's FAA on flight-sharing?

Mike Lee keeps working to dismantle the regulatory state. Will Republicans give him an assist, or keep Obama-era rules?

This week, the U.S. Senate may take up the dull-as-watching-paint-dry, yet important matter of reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Sen. Mike Lee has important deregulatory legislation he's pushing as part of that effort: A bill to allow flight-sharing via digital services.

Strangely, while the FAA currently allows pilots to post physical flight-sharing notices on bulletin boards at airports, during Obama's presidency, they banned digital equivalents of the same.

The Goldwater Institute has sued to overturn that rule on the basis that it violates the First Amendment as well as due process rights.

Lee wants to change the rules legislatively with a bill so simple it taps out at basically a single page. And the FAA apparently objects.

Despite now operating under President Trump who has taken a machete to the administrative state, the FAA seems to be holding to its "no flight-sharing postings" rule-- a massive boon to big airline interests, who are coincidentally pretty well represented at the Department of Transportationand the FAA, specifically.

Who benefits when digital hubs allowing pilots to tell people "I'm flying to Orlando on Saturday, you can come, too, if you share the fuel cost" are banned? Clearly, the big airlines who desperately do not want passengers having any alternative to their cramped seats, poor customer service, or rigid flight schedules. Who gets shortchanged? Individual pilots and consumers, of course.

Rumor is that the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) may also be quietly lobbying against Lee's bill, despite the fact that it would clearly benefit AOPA members who would like to participate in more flight-sharing, and would benefit from the FAA ditching its ban on digital hubs and apps by which this flight-sharing could be arranged. There is concern that this lobbying could push Sen. Jim Inhofe to oppose Lee's bill, despite Inhofe's staunchly deregulatory record.

What will happen to Lee's bill? Odds are, its fate will become clear within the next 48 hours. The question is whether Republican Senators will wind up siding with the Obama-era FAA that thought overregulation was the new hotness, even if it came at the cost of fewer consumer choices. Or, will Republicans do the philosophically consistent thing and side with Lee-- and free speech, and free markets?

Comments
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mtnavarre
mtnavarre

Ridiculous regulation. I worked for the FAA and as a pilot shared expenses. How is the government going to prove that a pilot did this unless the sharing person claimed that the pilot made him to pay for a trip and why would he do that. I share expenses when taking friends fishing. Is the government going to regulate that? What is the difference?

napleslover
napleslover

The cowardly Republicans will never side with Mike Lee. They would rather have less freedom of speech and less free markets than admit Mike Lee is right about something. Lee is way too conservative for the moderate RINOs in Congress.

Badmoon
Badmoon

This could help in areas that have a hard time generating the seat miles to interest the large airlines. Peachtree City to Starkville in 3 hours instead of 5. That's be win for me.

Cholorob
Cholorob

It’s an interesting point but the article would be better if it could actually explain why the FAA and lobbies have opposed the legislation. Just because it’s Obama era regulation does not mean it’s bad, this isn’t the EPA or another agency conservatives like bashing so I’m much more willing to cut them slack on not being politicized.

Daniel is Right
Daniel is Right

Today's Republican Party is largely no longer Conservative. They are Big Business and therefore progressive. That's why so many Conservative things can't get passed. I used to be an R but now after doing the study of progressivism have bailed out and am now an Independent.