Senate Passes FAA Legislation
The U.S. Senate this week passed a bill that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The measure includes several provisions that could affect cargo, including a requirement that, within two years of enactment, the FAA allow drones to make package deliveries and create a safety certification program for operators of drone delivery fleets. The bill also requires new steps to limit access to secure areas at airports and enhanced vetting of employees with access to those areas.
The Senate bill is significantly different from FAA reauthorization legislation under consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives. For the bill to become law, both houses of Congress will need to agree to common language and pass the resulting measure – something which could take quite a bit of time, given the current focus on the presidential and congressional elections later this year.
Customs Commissioner Plans Departure by Yearend
The Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Gil Kerlikowske, announced this week he plans to leave CBP by the end of 2016. He indicated that a top priority for his remaining time in office is the implementation of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, which recently was signed into law and which mandates a wide range of customs updates. (As previously reported, one provision of the law increased the U.S. de minimis threshold to $800. This provision has already been implemented.)
Kerlikowske was the first, and only, CBP Commissioner to be approved by the U.S. Senate during the Obama Administration and has been in charge of the agency since March 2014. As the final year of the Obama presidency progresses, additional departure announcements by political appointees are likely.