House Passes Larsen, Beyer Bill to Prepare U.S. Aviation for Future Public Health Emergencies
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Aviation Preparedness Plan Act, legislation introduced by Reps. Rick Larsen (WA-02) and Don Beyer (VA-08) to require the development of a national aviation preparedness plan for future public health emergencies. The bipartisan bill, which passed the House by a final vote of 293 to 133, now heads to the Senate for consideration.
“Seven years ago, a Government Accountability Office study I requested during the emergence of Ebola found the U.S. lacks a comprehensive plan aimed at preventing and containing diseases through air travel and the U.S. should develop such a plan as soon as possible. Lessons learned from the Ebola and COVID-19 pandemics show the urgent need for a plan to ensure the safety of aviation crews, employees and passengers during future public health emergencies,” said Larsen, Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee. “I look forward to continue working with Rep. Beyer and my colleagues to get this bill over the finish line to keep the traveling public healthy and safe.”
“A national aviation preparedness plan been could have saved lives at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic with a stronger, quicker response. It is imperative that we learn from those mistakes to do better in the future, because it is extremely unlikely that Covid will be the last pandemic," said Rep. Beyer. “House passage of this bill today is a big step toward answering the need for a coordinated national strategy to prevent spread of disease by air travel, a crucial element for pandemic response identified by government watchdogs and the U.N., among others. I thank Rep. Larsen for his leadership on this legislation, and urge the Senate to send it to the President for signature.”
Larsen has long championed efforts to improve U.S. aviation safety as it relates to public health. In 2015, Larsen requested a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on the preparedness of U.S. aviation to handle the spread of a communicable disease during the emergence of the Ebola virus. The GAO recommended a national aviation preparedness plan to enable the U.S. aviation and public health sectors to coordinate on response efforts more effectively, while minimizing disruptions to the national aviation system. The National Aviation Preparedness Plan Act builds on similar solutions Larsen championed in the House-passed HEROES Act and the Healthy Flights Act of 2020.
Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.-At Large), André Carson (IN-07) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) signed on as original cosponsors of the bill. Reps. Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Kai Kahele (HI-02), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Ed Case (HI-01), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (IL-04) and Mike Levin (CA-49) also cosponsored the bill.
The National Aviation Preparedness Plan Act is supported by the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), the Port of Seattle, the U.S. Travel Association, the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA), the Association of Flight Attendants–CWA, the Airports Council International–North America (ACI-NA), the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), Airlines for America (A4A) and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA).
For more information on the National Aviation Preparedness Plan Act, click here.